Gazebo Gazette

Cybersecurity education, resources, and prevention will be the focal points of the first annual Mississippi Cybersecurity Faculty Retreat hosted by The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Feb. 24-25 at the University’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.

The event is being coordinated by USM’s School of Computing Sciences and Computer (CSCE) Engineering. A group of keynotes speakers will provide perspectives on today’s prevalent cybersecurity issues.

“The demand for cybersecurity professionals is on the rise, and there are many opportunities for cybersecurity education throughout the state that enable Mississippi residents to pursue those higher wage jobs,” said CSCE Director Dr. Sarah Lee. “This faculty retreat will highlight those diverse pathways and will help us build a community of cybersecurity educators in which we can share best practices and maximize resources across the state.

USM is hosting the retreat as part of the Mississippi Cyber Initiative (MCI), which was created to meet the challenges of the cybersecurity reality in the state and around the nation and position Mississippi as a leader in a field that will be of critical importance in the years ahead.

The MCI is a statewide effort led by Mississippi State University with implementing partners from Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and USM.

The goals of the MCI are to: (1) promote economic development for the Gulf Coast region and the State, (2) deliver timely cybersecurity workforce training and education, (3) address complex cybersecurity issues for the State, and (4) increase public awareness through outreach.

“Dr. Lee and I have been discussing ways to bring cybersecurity educators in the state together, and I am happy that we are doing this. This retreat will help us increase collaboration in cybersecurity education across the state,” said Dr. Shahram Rahimi, Department Head, Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Mississippi State University.

Scheduled speakers include:

Ruthe Farmer
Founder & CEO, Last Mile Education Fund

Farmer is a talent entrepreneur laser-focused on inclusion and leveraging existing infrastructure to scale change. She is the founder and CEO of the Last Mile Education Fund. She previously served as chief evangelist at CSforAll, was senior policy advisor for tech inclusion in the Obama White House, and chief strategy & growth officer at the National Center for Women & IT.

Rachel Wortman Morris PhD
Senior Business Program Manager – Worldwide Learning, Microsoft

Dr. Wortman Morris is the Future Skill Transformation Lead for Microsoft where she directs the Microsoft Learn for Educators program and was the co-creator of Microsoft AI Business School. In addition to her work at Microsoft, Dr. Wortman Morris is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health. She holds her Ph.D. in Comparative Studies from The Ohio State University as well as degrees from Oberlin College and Middlebury College.

Curt Dennis
Senior Manager of Product Development, Secureworks

Dennis is a product manager based out of Raleigh, NC. His passion is helping companies deliver outcomes that create client value. He does this by being a client advocate, doing in-depth market evaluation, and looking at competing products to identify unique ways to drive revenue while focusing on the most important thing…customer loyalty and satisfaction.

To learn more or register for the Mississippi Cybersecurity Faculty Retreat, visit: