Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog


National University

March 15, 2016

This week, we sat down with Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, president of National University and chancellor of the National University System to discuss the university's undeniable impact on our region. For more than four decades, National University has trained our region's workforce – providing convenient, quality education for veterans, adult learners and more. In a new partnership with AMN Healthcare, National University will assist with the development of AMN's online, educational practices and pedagogy aimed at clinical staff. National University – and its partnerships with companies such as AMN – is spearheading the ongoing professional development of our region and workforce. 

1)      Please tell us a little about National University. We’re not looking for the traditional ‘about us.’ Feel free to share anecdotes, projects or interesting facts that others may not know.

National University has deep ties to the San Diego community and our military population. Our founder Dr. David Chigos was, in fact, a Navy retiree and working for General Dynamics when he identified a need to provide quality, accessible education for working professionals. This included for our military community, which faced regular deployments and class scheduling challenges. National University became a pioneer in meeting the needs of adult learners, launching a unique one-class-per-month format that was particularly convenient for our military students to pursue their studies. Since our founding in 1971, we have grown to become the second-largest private, nonprofit university in California. We have more than two dozen locations throughout the state and Nevada, and locally we are in Chula Vista, La Mesa, Spectrum, Kearny Mesa, Carlsbad, Rancho Bernardo as well as at San Diego area military base locations. We also were among the early pioneers of online education, and so our students have a choice or learning online, on campus or through a hybrid format. We offer more than 100 programs in all areas of study, and our Sanford College of Education is among the Top Ten largest in the nation.

2)      Ensuring San Diego has a steady stream of talented university grads is essential to our regional competitiveness strategy. What are some of the advantages to having your university’s footprint in San Diego?

National University is proud to be in and of San Diego since it brings so many opportunities to partner with wonderful organizations dedicated to keeping our region competitive, such as the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.

In fact, you may not realize how many people in our community are National University graduates. They include council members Myrtle Cole and Marti Emerald, former San Diego mayor and police chief Jerry Sanders, who is now CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, School District Superintendents such as Jeff Felix of the Coronado School District and Duane Coleman of the Oceanside Unified School District, and your neighbors and work colleagues.

We are serving a very important need in the San Diego community in collaboration with the other great institutions in our region. About 80 percent of our undergraduate students are transfer students, many who come to us from other local San Diego institutions and community colleges. Many of the students in our graduate programs come from some of San Diego’s well-known institutions, such as San Diego State University, and other CSUs, as well as from the University of California system – so we are clearly providing a pathway to ongoing professional education that will directly serve our community.

We also have established educational partnerships with both the County of San Diego and the City of San Diego, which named us their Preferred Employee Education Partner, to serve our region’s working professionals in the public sector. Community partnerships are important to us, and that includes our involvement as the San Diego Padres’ exclusive education partner. We look forward to holding our commencement at the Padres stadium in 2016.

3)      San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation.  National University is very engaged with many of them. Pick a San Diego-area company that’s at the top of its game.

Education is such a driver for our region’s competitiveness and it’s been exciting to collaborate with a number of companies as they redefine workplace education. One example is with AMN Healthcare, which is one of San Diego’s greatest companies and the nation’s largest provider of healthcare staffing and workforce solutions. AMN’s CEO and President Susan Salka has led a phenomenal team to be at the forefront of redefining the workforce in health care today and is dedicating efforts to ongoing education and training for clinical staff.  We have partnered with AMN Healthcare to complement the company’s extensive and targeted educational efforts by supplying it with the technological framework to enhance its offerings. This has been a great fit since National University was a first mover with online learning, so we are assisting with the development of online practices and pedagogy aimed at clinical staff. What AMN is doing is very impressive and underscores the importance of ongoing professional development in ways that will positively impact our region and workforce. We are pleased to be partnering with AMN on this important initiative.

4)      What do you anticipate for National University in the next 5 years? What do you anticipate for the San Diego region?

I am so pleased to have served over the past three years as both President of National University and as Chancellor of the National University System. Now it’s time to hand over presidential duties April 1 to Dr. David Andrews who comes to us as the highly-regarded Dean of the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. I am confident he will do a superb job and the San Diego community will enjoy getting to know him. I will continue to work closely with Dr. Andrews as I focus more of my attention on the System, a network of accredited nonprofit education institutions serving higher education and K-12 students and anchored by National University.

San Diego is such an innovation-driven community. We are already a clear leader in health, biotech and other major fields, and we can expect even more amazing breakthroughs in the sciences and creative industries in the next five years. Our cross-border region is also one of our greatest strengths, with the potential to make San Diego an even stronger force in the global economy. Partnerships with groups such as the All Star Games 2016 will also put San Diego on the map and allow us to share our great stories with the wider world. Educational institutions such as ours will be critical for identifying market-relevant programs and developing partnerships with the private and public sector. National University has been a pioneer in offering quality education for the working adult, and we will continue to be a leader in providing innovative education models to help address an anticipated need in California of 1.5 million more college graduates by 2025. We will do this through the creation of programs that prepare students for new and in-demand professions, such as our popular cybersecurity program. And we will continue to train a new generation of leaders - great teachers, civic leaders and professionals – as part of our commitment to strengthening our economy one graduate at a time.

We also see ourselves as a major national driver in offering and putting into practice innovative approaches to education. National University prepares more teachers than any other university in California, and we see our role expanding on a national scale by identifying and supporting initiatives that emphasize PreK-12 student development and success. As the home of the Sanford Education Center, launched in 2014, we are currently leading the national adoption of two such programs – Sanford Harmony and Sanford Inspire – to classrooms in San Diego and nationwide in collaboration with universities around the country.  We also have similar plans for our unique “cause sales” fundraising programs developed by the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy to support the work of nonprofits. These three initiatives come from the vision of philanthropist and entrepreneur T. Denny Sanford, and as we are very proud to be leading their national expansion as it aligns closely with our own mission as a private, nonprofit university serving the public good.

March 20, 2014

Projected employment growth for Cyber industry

A report released today found that international criminal enterprises are increasingly focusing on California because of its wealth and innovation.

While this information can be off-putting at first, it’s good thing that San Diego is doing something about it. And it’s happening right now.

This morning, in an unprecedented show of collaboration, the San Diego business community came together to grow the region’s cyber footprint. Released today, “Cybersecurity in San Diego: an economic impact and industry assessment” found that the cyber industry impacts more than 13,000 jobs and has a total economic impact of $1.5 billion, which is more than the impact of hosting three Super Bowls every year. San Diego, with its culture of innovation and military footprint, is in a position to lead the industry nationally.

Cyber can be San Diego's next big jobs generator,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego Regional EDC. "Like biotech was 30 years ago, cyber has the potential to be a driving force for growth in both our innovation and military economies."

City of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Representatives Scott Peters (D- 52) and Susan Davis (D–53) joined us for the release. City of San Diego Councilmember Mark Kersey (D -5) and Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner (D -1) also were in attendance at both an industry event and press conference at The Lodge at Torrey Pines.

Mayor Faulconer addresses crowd at CCOE launch

“San Diego’s robust culture of innovation and strong ties to America’s military forces uniquely positions our City to lead the cybersecurity industry,” said City of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “I look forward to working with the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and all of San Diego’s entrepreneurs and tech leaders to make sure that San Diego is a global pioneer in cybersecurity.”

Cybersecurity firms are expected to experience rapid employment growth. While the entire San Diego County employment base is expected to grow 2.2 percent from 2013-2014, cybersecurity firms are expected to grow by 13 percent. Overall, cybersecurity-centric jobs, such as software developers and information security analysts, are expected to grow by 25 percent.

"If we care about creating jobs and growing our economy, than we need to support the cybersecurity industry," said Congressman Scott Peters (D). "I have supported specific cyber legislation in the past and remain committed to working together to advocate for an industry that not only protects San Diego's jobs, but also safeguards American companies."

CCOE Logo

In an effort to accelerate this job growth strategy, the Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE) – a partnership dedicated to accelerating the cyber innovation economy – has formed.  Its powerfully diverse platform of leading cyber-related companies, military leaders and world-class academic partners are uniting in pursuit of a common economic-driven agenda to promote the region’s cyber strengths. Currently, the CCOE is comprised of an executive committee and is overseen by Holly Smithson of Sentek.

Nationally, cybersecurity has emerged as a priority as global retailers, medical providers, and critical infrastructure fall prey to significant data breaches and cyber theft. Cyber has evolved to become more than just an issue of the government, and now is a potential threat to all businesses and individuals.  In San Diego, more than 100 core cyber firms create a strong opportunity for the region to lead.

“We’re extremely excited about the launch of the CCOE and the opportunity for San Diego to capitalize on the national leadership of our cyber security sector,” said Andrew Lee CEO, ESET North America. “From supporting more cyber infrastructure growth, to attracting and developing IT talent, ESET is proud to contribute our resources and 25 years of experience in the cyber security space to this unique partnership of community and business leaders.”

On the heels of another round of sequestration, the cyber industry has even greater significance in both the national and local dialogue. Cybersecurity is one of two areas where the Department of Defense is adding resources. Locally, the cybersecurity industry is anchored by the U.S. Navy Space & Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR). SPAWAR alone impacts more than 6,100 jobs in San Diego and generates more than $705 million in total economic impact locally. U-T’s editorial board penned a great op-ed on the importance of SPAWAR to advancing San Diego’s cybersecurity cluster.

“SPAWAR's ability to accomplish our mission is strengthened by our public-private partnerships in this community.  These partnerships range from cooperative research initiatives with local industry or universities, to the more traditional contractual relationships for development, procurement and sustainment of advanced capabilities,” said Rear Admiral Patrick Brady, SPAWAR commander. “We rely heavily on the expertise of local businesses to build the tools our Fleet needs. In fiscal year 2013 alone, SPAWAR obligated more than $1 billion on contracts for worked performed in San Diego County.”

SPAWAR is central source of innovation for cybersecurity.  More than 90 percent of SPAWAR’s $7.3B budget is put on contract with private industry.

As a private-sector company, the military and government are important customers and are vital to our decision to be headquartered here, ” said Eric Basu, president and CEO of Sentek. “Sentek is proud to be in San Diego and we’re proud to be working with the CCOE to push the cyber cluster forward.”

As the study suggests, The Cyber Center of Excellence will be partnering with San Diego’s prestigious universities to attract and train entry- to mid-level cybersecurity workers.  As part of this commitment, EDC will continue its “iTrends @ UCSD” series, which will focus on cybersecurity. Open to individuals across all majors and schools, the program works to educate students about industries with growth opportunities throughout the San Diego region.

“UC San Diego has always worked hand-in-hand with the community to refine our curriculum and prepare our top-notch graduates for in-demand jobs,” said Pradeep K. Khosla, Chancellor of UC San Diego. “Our graduates go on to hold positions in some of the most competitive companies around the globe. As home to the San Diego Supercomputer Center, we will continue to produce the talent to ensure San Diego remains a cyber center of excellence.”

Tom Clancy, Chair of Software San Diego said: “San Diego is very compelling to cybersecurity companies due to its incredible technical talent pool, and the close collaboration between industry and academia. We have an abundance of individuals with security clearances, universities with cutting-edge research and workforce training programs, and direct access to customers in healthcare, defense, mobile, finance and energy.

Bank of America

The study was underwritten by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Sentek Global.  National University System Institute for Policy Research – under the leadership of president Erik Bruvold – authored the study.

For a complete copy of the executive summary and full study, please visit http://www.sandiegobusiness.org/research/lvltw  and look under the report section.

Below, Chad Nelley of ESET on KPBS’ Midday Edition

 

Media coverage so far: