Rutgers University was awarded a $1.95 million grant to advance the homeland security and intelligence programs offered through its Institute for Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security (IEPHS).
Out of over 50 schools who applied for the opportunity, Rutgers is one of only eight institutions awarded the funds to become a designated Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
“As recent events have shown, the need for reliable, legally obtained intelligence has never been more acute,” said John J. Farmer Jr., a Rutgers law professor and former New Jersey Attorney General who served as senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission. “This distinction and grant will enable Rutgers to build on the expertise that already exists at the university to shape intelligence policy and to educate and train the next generation of intelligence professionals.”
The center will be part of Rutgers’ IEPHS, a universitywide, multidisciplinary center that addresses emergency preparedness, disaster response and homeland security. IEPHS was established last year to prepare the next generation of homeland security professionals to prepare for and respond to natural disasters and terrorist threats.
Speaking at IEPHS’ inaugural conference in June 2014, former Pennsylvania governor and first secretary of homeland security Tom Ridge emphasized the persistent nature of terrorism and natural disasters.
"The threats of global terrorism and natural disasters are something we will have to operate under forever," Ridge said. "Mother Nature isn’t going away, whether it’s a virus mutation, hurricanes, and tornados. These are things we will have to deal with. Crime, organized and otherwise, will unfortunately be part of our communities. One can argue that the challenges are truly all-hazard."
The additional funding provided by the grant will allow Rutgers to expand itscourse offerings and intelligence-related student training programs, establishing Rutgers as a leader in intelligence and homeland security education. The program will incorporate expertise in fields ranging from mathematics and engineering to criminal justice, medicine and the law.
“By drawing upon expertise ranging from mathematics and engineering to criminal justice, medicine and law, IEPHS is undertaking precisely the kind of collaborative and interdisciplinary work envisioned in the university’s strategic plan,” said Rutgers President Robert Barchi.
Farmer and Clifton R. Lacy, New Jersey’s former health commissioner, will lead a team of professionals in creating a new curricula to educate the homeland security and intelligence leaders of the future.
“The institute brings together within one entity a large number of subject matter experts for robust multidisciplinary collaboration in research, education, community outreach and preparedness initiatives,” said Lacy.
While some of the programs will be of a theoretical nature, the majority will be dedicated to practical projects with real world applications. Lacy said, “Although some of our projects involve the theoretical, the main thrust of our efforts is the development of practical advances useful in the real world.”
One of IEPHS’ first projects, theFaith Based Security Program, is just one example of what the institution hopes to achieve through further advancement. The program assesses the threat that rising levels of extremist violence pose to faith communities.
Teams from Rutgers were recently dispatched to work in areas where fresh attacks occurred, including Paris and Copenhagen, which recently experienced terrorist violence. Interviews were also conducted in other locations to assess threats and recommend counterterrorism best practices.
“This new grant funds a vitally important education and training initiative,” said Lacy.