Sam Houston State, Idaho State Universities Lead Way on Hiring CHDS Alums, Faculty in Higher Education

While the connection between the Center for Homeland Defense and Security and the nation’s universities with homeland security and emergency management programs is extensive, Sam Houston State University and Idaho State University have taken that to a whole other level. 

Sam Houston State Security Studies Department Professor and Chair Nadav Morag

Led by Sam Houston State Security Studies Department Professor and Chair Nadav Morag, a longtime CHDS instructor, and Idaho State Homeland Security and Emergency Management degree program Director and Associate Professor Laurie Holien (Master’s Program cohort 0705/0706), the two programs feature a total of 27 CHDS alumni, current and former faculty, and even a few CHDS co-founders who serve as adjunct professors, course developers, subject matter experts, and student sponsors and mentors, as well as a CHDS alum Michael Aspland (Master’s Program cohort 0803/0804) who serves as Executive Director of the new Institute for Homeland Security at Sam Houston State. 

In all, CHDS records show 124 CHDS alums are teaching more than 340 courses at 106 educational institutions, and about 20 percent of the 35 current CHDS faculty also teach at other educational institutions. 

CHDS University and Agency Partnership Program Director Steve Recca said CHDS alums are “sought-after full- and part-time faculty,” and about 15-20 percent of all CHDS alums end up teaching after graduating from CHDS programs. 

Recca noted that this year’s 15th Annual Homeland Defense and Security Education Summit features an “alumni-rich” roster of panelists during a Day 2 panel discussion entitled “Innovation in  Homeland Security Practice and Education III,” including Holien, Angi English (Master’s Program cohort 1303/1304, Executive Leader Program cohort 1201), Michael Brody (Master’s Program cohort 1001/1002) and Joseph Simons-Rudolph (Master’s Program cohort 1805/1806). 

The Education Summit, whose theme is “The Growing Convergence of Homeland and National Security: Educating Future Leaders to Understand Evolving Threats,” is set for Monday, Oct. 31 to Wednesday, Nov. 2 at the Monterey Conference Center in Monterey, CA. 

Morag, who took over the Sam Houston State program six years ago, said CHDS provides a “ready pool” of “really top-notch” people with both a practitioner’s background, since they’re all current and former officials in the homeland security enterprise, and an academic background as a result of their CHDS education. 

He added that there’s “no equivalent” to the CHDS educational program despite the existence of hundreds of homeland security and emergency management programs across the nation, noting that CHDS was actually set up to “seed” other university educational programs through UAPP and has been “instrumental in building programs.” 

At Sam Houston State, Morag said CHDS alums who serve as adjunct professors typically teach one or two courses while continuing their homeland security careers, though some are also already retired. 

According to Morag, adjunct faculty includes CHDS alums Jack Anderson, Brad Deardorff, Donna Grannan, Dominique Tarpey, and Beth Windisch, as well as CHDS co-founders Ted Lewis and Darrell Darnell, among others, while course developers include CHDS alums Dr. James Madia, Sinan Khan, Judd Freed, Tarpey, and Anderson, among others. 

Meanwhile, Holien said Idaho State also “recognizes the rare combination of qualities that CHDS alumni bring to the academic setting,” describing them as “highly accomplished leaders in their professions” who have “gone through the rigorous, research-based academic program” at CHDS. 

“I appreciate the diverse perspectives and understanding that they don’t know everything there is to know,” she said. “CHDS alumni are open to the unknown, wicked problems and have experience sense-making and acting amidst chaos. Embracing emergent practice when necessary and sharing those experiences with students requires a different mindset than a professor who is more inclined to teach from a textbook. There is nothing wrong with that old-school teaching style for some subjects, but it does not fit well to build the homeland security and emergency management core competencies our country needs now and in the future.” 

Idaho State Homeland Security and Emergency Management degree program Director and Associate Professor Laurie Holien

According to Holien, adjunct faculty includes CHDS alums Jonathan Gaddy, Darren Price, David Ferguson, Jason Nairn, Michael Harryman, Susan Reinertson, Donna White, English and Freed, along with CHDS alums who have served as subject matter experts and supported the program and students including David Riedman, Thomas Landry, and Jay Hagen.

Holien said she is a “huge advocate” for CHDS and modeled both the Idaho State Homeland Security and Emergency Management Master’s and Bachelor’s degree programs “to attain the highly rigorous and collaborative nature” of the CHDS educational programs. The department launched its new Master’s degree program in August, she said, and rolled out the first course – Critical Issues and Systems Thinking.   

As for the CHDS relationship with the broader academic community, Holien, who has been a UAPP member since she moved into academics full-time in 2016, also lauded that program for providing a “welcoming place for other academics and agencies that value research and critical thinking via fellowship and shared resources among different higher education institutions.” 

Holien said UAPP has been an “invaluable resource and support community” for her as an academic, and she attends summits and conferences sponsored by the program whenever she is able and makes frequent use of the program’s online resources when developing new curriculum and seminars, as well as the faculty development workshops. In addition, she said the UAPP connection helps faculty members reach out to subject matter experts and guest speakers to “enrich our students’ learning experiences.” 

She said she encourages any CHDS alum looking for mentoring opportunities to reach out to her so she can pair them up with undergraduate or graduate-level students who are interested in the alum’s specialty area and the alum can also become an organizational sponsor for a student working on a complex problem. 

“Working with the next generation of homeland security leaders is a very rewarding experience,” she said. “I learn something new every day. 

Holien said the UAPP network also played a role in helping her relocate the Homeland Security and Emergency Management program from Concordia University in Portland, OR, a small private liberal arts college that closed down during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, to Idaho State.  

After building the program, including the expansion of its name and scope to include emergency management and the addition to the teaching roster of more CHDS alums to the handful who were there when she took over, Holien said it was a relief to be able to relocate the program including all its courses, adjunct faculty, her director position, and students who needed to complete their degrees. 

“It was a stressful but fortuitous transition during the challenging pandemic that shocked many universities that were not adept at converting on-ground courses to online instruction,” she said, noting that she spoke with more than 50 institutions before settling on Idaho State, which already had CHDS alums on its own teaching roster. “I am thankful for the UAPP program that helped connect me to many strategic conversations with member universities. We need those degree programs and I didn’t want to see it disappear.” 

She noted that while CHDS alumni are “prevalent” in the current academic community, there are also “many brilliant academics” outside the CHDS network “dedicating their expertise to teaching and research,” and CHDS’s acknowledgment and support is “essential.” 

To that end, Holien said she would like to see CHDS become an academic accrediting body for homeland security and emergency management education programs nationwide and said she would like to help with such an initiative. Morag said he would like to see the homeland security field “mature” by starting to develop and offer PhD. programs, which he is in the early stages of developing at Sam Houston State. He said a PhD. program, which he attempted to start at CHDS, is needed to provide legitimacy as an academic discipline complete with academic research, theory, and a body of literature, comparing it to the development of criminal justice as an academic discipline.

INQUIRIES: Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran, Communications and Recruitment |, 831-402-4672 (PST)

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