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Graduate School Cybersecurity Department Professor Patrick W. Fitzgibbons has received a coveted 2014 University System of Maryland (USM) Regents' Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. The tribute is the highest honor conferred by the Board of Regents in recognition of outstanding faculty achievement.

"I know I speak for the entire University of Maryland University College when I say that I deeply appreciate what you do for our students, the contributions you make to our increasingly important―and increasingly prominent―cybersecurity program, and the immeasurable impact you have on our reputation as an institution of higher learning," said UMUC President Javier Miyares in congratulating Fitzgibbons.

The honor carries special import because the Regents' Faculty Awards are bestowed sparingly: Only up to four Awards for Teaching Excellence are given annually across the university system. Given UMUC's longstanding primary focus on teaching rather than research, it is especially gratifying when the school's faculty are recognized for their mastery in the classroom, Miyares added.

To be considered for the award, faculty must demonstrate proven and measurable success in increasing student learning, continuous achievement in an academic field, and contributions that their peers or the public recognize as exceptional. Among his many other accomplishments, Fitzgibbons was recognized for contributing to the creation and launch of three award-winning Master of Science programs, Cybersecurity, Cybersecurity Policy, and Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigation.

"To ensure a current, relevant, and comprehensive overarching framework for the programs, I started by mapping our proposed UMUC curriculum with industry standards established by NIST National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE)," Fitzgibbons said.

Consistent with UMUC's focus, the cybersecurity programs were designed with working professional in mind. They are offered entirely online and, are multidisciplinary, workforce relevant, and scalable. Most critically, because the literature indicates adults learn best through doing, the programs make use of leading-edge technology―multimedia learning objects, and lab exercises using open source tools including Wireshark, Snort and Nessus―to optimize experiential learning.

"Consequently, the programs have proven hugely successful," said Aric Krause, vice provost and dean of UMUC's graduate school. "From a standing start in 2010, the MS in Cybersecurity programs have grown to an enrollment of nearly 1600."

The USM Regents' Award is the latest in a long line of regional and national honors Fitzgibbons has received. He was the first recipient of the State University of New York's (SUNY) Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching at SUNY Institute of Technology in 1989.

He received the Excellence in Online Education Award from the Web-based Information Science Education (WISE) Consortium in 2011, and the Program Development (Credit) Award for UMUC's MS in Cybersecurity and MS in Cybersecurity Policy programs from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) Mid-Atlantic Region in 2012.

Fitzgibbons received both the 2012 and 2013 Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology Award from the International Conference on College Teaching and Learning (ICCTL). Also, he has had the honor of being nominated by his UMUC students for the prized Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Excellence Award.

Still, this latest recognition stands apart from the rest, Fitzgibbons said. "This award means a great deal to me because it's connected to my lifelong career as an educator." Fitzgibbons, who confesses a passion for teaching, said he has always felt a connection working with adult and other non-traditional students that represent UMUC's core students, "and that is what makes my work at UMUC so enriching and personally rewarding."

He said he is deeply honored to have received the award. "And as any of my extremely dedicated colleagues at UMUC will attest, there is simply nothing more gratifying than helping a student achieve his or her full potential."