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(ISC)², the international membership association for information security leaders, recently announced the winners of its seventh annual Americas Information Security Leadership Awards (Americas ISLA®), which celebrate the accomplishments of private and public sector industry leaders throughout the Americas who are inspiring change within the information security workforce.

Dr. Mansur Hasib, chair of the Cybersecurity Technology Program in The Graduate School at UMUC, was honored with the 2017 Leadership Award for his stewardship of the cybersecurity graduate program. Dr. Ajay Gupta, head of the cybersecurity program in The Undergraduate School, attended the awards luncheon at the 7th Annual (ISC)² Security Congress in Austin, Texas, and accepted Hasib's award on his behalf.

In addition to a crystal globe, award recipients, who are considered "rock stars" owing to the ceremony being held in the music-centered city of Austin, also received specially designed electric guitars.

"I was fortunate to join UMUC at a time when the vision for several key innovations had been announced: (1) the move toward real-world project and evidence-based education; (2) high-quality, open-learning resources curated or written by practitioner-scholars; and (3) flexible and innovative pathways for non-traditional students and career changers with little or no previous background to join and succeed in our world-leading cybersecurity education programs," said Hasib.

Hasib brought his more than 30 years' experience in the field in a wide range of public and private sectors, which proved to be a valuable asset, he said. In addition, he reached out to his network of experts in the field and hired practitioner-scholar faculty members and several key subject matter experts who are able to help deliver high-quality content, rich labs, and an enriching learning experience.

"We teach cybersecurity as a people-powered perpetual innovation culture," Hasib stressed. "It is far broader than mere protection or risk management. We teach our students to be perennial learners and to generously share their knowledge with others. We teach our students to implement perpetual innovation cultures in the organizations they lead. We teach them to make cybersecurity and digital strategy key revenue drivers and a productivity engine for their organization."

His approach included weaving UMUC's "students first" culture into the program and provided coaching to the faculty on what that inclusion means for improving student success. Hasib said he was a little nervous at first because he believed that no one had tried his approach at such a massive scale. UMUC has more than 4,000 students in its graduate Cybersecurity Technology Program.

Members of the redesigned program's first cohort will be graduating in UMUC's first-ever winter commencement in December. Hasib said he has listened to many of his students' stories, read their blogs and social media posts, and shared how the program had changed their way of thinking about cybersecurity and leadership. "I feel very warmly rewarded that our innovative graduate program is truly making a difference in people's lives," he said.

"This award was especially meaningful for our students," he added. "It was a complete surprise to all of us and the students literally lit up the blogosphere with their delight in this prestigious honor. They are now about to become pioneer graduates from our award-winning graduate program - the first of its kind ever to be recognized by as prestigious an organization as (ISC)2. I could not thank (ISC)2 and the international team of luminary judges enough for this amazing recognition and validation of our hard work."

The Americas ISLA program showcases leading security practitioners’ accomplishments – work that often goes unnoticed but directly contributes to the strength of our security practices throughout the region,” said (ISC)2 CEO David Shearer, CISSP. “The winners represent a group of leaders who are dedicated to helping our communities, businesses and government agencies stay safe and secure. Their accomplishments are an inspiration to me and all their peers. We are honored to recognize them at (ISC)2 Security Congress.”