The University of Nebraska has released the latest episode of its “Leading Nebraska” podcast series, featuring a new national center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha that works to combat terrorism.
Funded by a 10-year, $36.5 million Department of Homeland Security grant, the National Counterterrorism, Innovation, Technology and Education Center (NCITE) formally launched at UNO this month. The center’s 17 partner institutions include the University of Nebraska Medical Center and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
UNO was chosen to house NCITE following a highly competitive selection process that involved a site visit to Omaha by a team of DHS officials. UNO’s selection among some 75 universities submitting letters of interest was a reflection of a long record of leadership across the university in national security and defense.
"What it means for our university is that we are the trusted agent, the academic partner of the Department of Homeland Security for all counterterrorism research," NCITE program director Gina Ligon says in the podcast.
Ligon was a high school student in Oklahoma in 1995 when Timothy McVeigh carried out the bombing of a federal building that killed 168 people. Her history teacher took her and her classmates to see the destruction. It was then that she begun to understand the dangers of ideological violence.
"One of the things I said in the site visit was that if they put (NCITE) here in Nebraska, that you will have people from the middle of the country who are dedicated to stopping the next Tim McVeigh, in whatever way we can," says Ligon, who is also the Jack and Stephanie Koraleski Professor of Collaboration Science and a professor of management at UNO.
"I feel very motivated and pulled by that mission and to know that we get to play some part of it here in Omaha – I’m incredibly grateful and will give every ounce of my being to making sure that’s successful."
UNO’s status as NCITE headquarters will also help create a pipeline of workers in homeland security-related fields that will grow Nebraska’s economy.
"I see a potential for us to be able to change the economic ecosystem of Omaha – national security business startups, people being able to build organizations here in Omaha to serve this mission," Ligon says. "I’m very excited about how we’re going to transition this research into businesses here for Nebraska."
The NU system’s "Leading Nebraska" podcast was launched last fall to share stories of researchers, students and educators across the four campuses who are growing the state’s workforce and quality of life. Podcast topics including nursing, agricultural education, healthcare, workforce development, cybersecurity, teacher education and others, featuring experts from UNO, UNL, UNK and UNMC.
Listeners may follow the "Leading Nebraska" podcast here.