Teacher feature: Stephen Zidek

Stephen Zidek, Ph.D., assistant professor of intelligence studies, provides his students with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: learning from a teacher who has incomparable and incredible prior experience to teaching here at Mercyhurst.

“When you teach you learn, and you learn more about what you taught years ago,” he says.

“I love working with younger people and sharing that passion, teaching them critical skills and how to be smarter in their studies.”

Originally from Riverside, Ill., he received his bachelor’s degree in political science from University of Illinois – Champaign/Urbana, his master’s degree in international affairs from Flinders University of South Australia and his Ph.D. at Southern Illinois University.

Prior to teaching at Mercyhurst, Zidek joined the private sector as Director of the Anti-Piracy Intelligence Center at the Motion Picture Association of America in Los Angeles, where he identified criminals involved with cybercrimes such as dealing movies, software, games and even human trafficking and child pornography.

Before working in the private sector, he worked for the U.S. Government in a variety of jobs involving the U.S. Department of State, Defense and Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

Zidek served in the Marine Reserves for 25 years of active duty in the Marine Force Pacific Crew, based in Hawaii. “However,” Zidek says, “I never actually went to Hawaii. I did go to Japan and Korea.”

After multiple years serving in Iraq, he is now a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. During his time with the marines, he has taught Intelligence to the cadets and has been director for the high school reserves. Zidek has also worked at the Pentagon for a few years.

Currently Zidek is the co-founder of a cyber intelligence and strategic business company called GenuFi Inc, which serves corporate and government organizations concerned with intellectual property protection, monetization of premium online content and cyber security.

Zidek teaches two freshman classes of Introduction to Intelligence, a senior class of Strategic Intelligence and a graduate class of Intelligence Communications.

When asked what would be a valuable piece of information for freshman students, Zidek responsed with wise words: “Bring an open mind. Prepare to work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”