Remarks of Senator Patrick Leahy On Continuing Education for the Federal Workforce Through the truED Program at Champlain College U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Alan Campbell Auditorium

Thank you, Acting Director Colbert, for your warm introduction, and to President Laackman for inviting me here today.  I am pleased to see here many leaders and professionals who have dedicated their lives to public service, and who are committed to meeting the critical talent and development needs of the federal workforce.   

Like many of you, I have spent my career in public service, and during that time I have also experienced the revolution in access to information.  And while that is for the better for issues ranging from human rights to government transparency to commercial opportunity, it also carries tremendous risks.  As we capitalize on the incredible technological achievements that have marked the past few decades, we know all too well that our sensitive, private data has become increasingly susceptible to cybercriminals  and foreign governments.  Technology allows everyday people to organize global movements for the advancement of rights, but it also presents opportunities for bad actors to wreak havoc.

This is a critical national security problem that deserves thoughtful attention.  While strengthening our Nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure and other skill gaps in the federal workforce are complex endeavors with no single solution, education can and will make a difference in mitigating these threats. 

That is why I am so pleased with the agreement between Champlain College and OPM.  This partnership acknowledges Champlain’s award-winning program in cybersecurity and other disciplines as an asset to all federal employees and their families.  As a lifelong Vermonter, I have enjoyed a deep connection with Champlain College for many years. Champlain has been recognized by the Defense Cyber Crime Center Air Force Office of Special Investigation as a designated National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence. The Department of Homeland Security and the NSA have also designated Champlain as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Education. I worked closely with Champlain College to create the Leahy Center for Digital Investigation, which is housed at the College.  The Center is a world class laboratory focused on establishing and assisting both public and private sector initiatives surrounding cybercrime, digital forensics, and information assurance.

Whether your interest is in cybersecurity – to complete a bachelor’s degree or another Master’s level program -- or helping a spouse or child access higher education, I encourage you to explore truEd.  The cost of higher education has become an insurmountable barrier to so many, which is why programs like truEd are so important.  The year-long alliance between Champlain and the federal government has already allowed hundreds of federal employees and their families to access critical career skills.  I look forward to the years ahead, as more federal employees and their families take advantage of the programs Champlain has to offer. 

Thank you again for inviting me to join you. I am proud to celebrate the importance of education in opening doors for federal employees and their families.  It is through programs like truED that we may begin to build solutions to critical issues facing our world.  I wish you all the best for a successful event.

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