New professors and new technologies


Cheyanne Crum, Managing editor

The Tom Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences is seeing many changes happening as a start to the 2017-18 school year.

One of the biggest changes that is already underway is the new college dean, Duncan McGill, Ph.D. McGill comes to Mercyhurst from the National Intelligence University in Washington D.C., where he oversaw the Master of Science program in Strategic Intelligence and the Bachelor of Science program in Intelligence.

He earned his doctorate from George Mason University in Biological Defense; a master’s in Science from National Defense University in National Resource Strategy; and a master’s from Webster University in Procurement Management. McGill received his bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri.

Ben Baughman, Ph.D., assistant professor of Intelligence Studies; Chad Griffin, Cyber program director; and M. Afzal Upal, Ph.D., Data Science program director, also joined the Intelligence Studies faculty.

The departments under McGill’s leadership have positive attitudes toward the upcoming changes that will be taking place.

“New leadership almost always means change; however, what it means for the Political Science Department is unclear. What is clear is that our new dean is an experienced and accomplished leader who is well prepared to help write the next chapter in the history of the Ridge College,” said Joseph Morris, Ph.D., Political Science Department chair. “I have no doubt that this will be a really exciting chapter.”

It seems that all departments in Ridge College are feeling like they are going to be able to accomplish their goals under the new leadership.

“It’s exciting to have new leadership in Ridge College. I think that he has some ideas of moving us forward, all of Ridge College, not just Intel, but inclusive of Criminal Justice,” said Maria Garase, Ph.D., Criminal Justice department Department chair. “I’m looking forward to seeing what will come to fruition in the next year, and really the next five years for the Tom Ridge College.”

The second change under Ridge College is the introduction of the one million-dollar investment into a Mercyhurst Cybersecurity Lab for the Intelligence Studies department.

“There will be two 30-person university classrooms that support the IT program and university use,” McGill said. “There will be a 20-person cyber lab that will be part of the data science cyber program. That will be a closed facility in a sense that it won’t be connected to anything.”

There will be a an operations center working for MCPC that will incorporate at least 16 student employees, where they can work and get real-word experience.

“Part of this lab will require top secret clearance. You will have to have top-secret clearance to go in there. In this area, they ask ‘Where do we have cyber vulnerabilities?’ and then these students would then hack into their systems, get paid for it, and then give the report back to MCPC,” President Michael T. Victor said.

On top of the grant that the Intelligence Studies Department received to build the new Intelligence Lab in the library, other departments are hoping to expand their research opportunities.

“Under Dr. McGill, we would like to expand our research and receive some outside grants, a lot of departments are,” said Dennis Dirkmaat, Ph.D., chair of the Applied Forensic Science Department. “McGill has been very receptive to us. With him, we would like to expand and embellish our undergraduate and graduate program in the Forensics department.”
There are other large changes that will be taking place within the Intelligence Department as well.

“In the college right now, we’re working on a cyber degree program, and we’re looking at updating the data science program, and we’ve been looking at adding a risk management program. The data science program will include that, cyber and risk management, so there will be an IT, cyber, data focused program,” McGill said.