Attack Response

President's Message

To recall the unmatchable rhetoric of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, September 11, 2001, was America's second experience with “...a day that will live in infamy.”

The tragedies of that day are a dramatic and chilling symbol of our new world, one in which “war” is no longer officially declared armed combat between and among nation states, but is a constant state of unrelenting terrorism and sabotage conducted not by the official acts of governments, but by bands of zealots, sometimes acting under the secret sanctions of rogue governments, but ostensibly out of the control of any recognized state. This turns on end our conventional approach to defense and national security. We now talk of domestic preparedness and homeland security, and we do so in far more serious tones than in the 1950s when we who volunteered for civil defense occasionally manned our outposts to watch for those Russian planes that never came. Now we know that the terrorist attacks have come, will come again and again, and that we are vulnerable throughout the free world.

Plaque on the IUP September 11, 2001, memorial

This plaque, affixed to black granite, is part of IUP’s September 11 memorial area. A few months after the plaque was dedicated, the university learned that a third alumnus had died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. William Moskal ’79, a Safety Sciences major and Johnstown native, was a risk consultant for Marsh and McLennan in Cleveland, specializing in heavy construction. He was in New York on September 11, 2001, for a meeting. Moskal is survived by his wife, Lorraine, and two children.

September 11 triggered a frantic national response to determine how best we can (1) prevent such attacks or at least prepare for them; (2) detect them when they are about to begin or are in progress; (3) respond in the most effective manner; and (4) recover.

When the attacks occurred, IUP, perhaps more than any other university, was already at work in all four of these areas. Our U.S. Congressman, Jack Murtha, had been working with us for a number of years to arrange for federal funding of programs that, taken together, constitute an institutional approach to homeland security. In addition, our faculty in Criminology and Computer Science (a unique marriage in this field) had teamed successfully to attract a major National Science Foundation grant to combine detection and protection with forensics. IUP’s success with this project resulted in the National Security Agency’s designating us one of thirty-six centers of excellence in information assurance, one of only fourteen nationwide to receive the second tier of certification. We are one of two such centers of excellence in Pennsylvania, the other being Carnegie Mellon University.

Our Weapons of Mass Destruction program, centered in Chemistry, Physics, and Biology, trained three of the first teams called to Ground Zero after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York. We have been asked by the federal government to lead the effort to develop a full range of degree programs, through the doctorate, in domestic preparedness, and we have already launched a new master’s degree program in the Science of Disaster Response.

Another of our pre-September 11 programs is the National Emergency and Disaster Information Center (NEDIC), which is a national web-based system that augments 911 call centers. This program provides emergency responders with best practices, on-line training, evaluation, and simulation tools designed to develop and sharpen response skills.

The September 11, 2001, memorial at IUP

On the Friday of Homecoming Weekend, the September 11 memorial area between Sutton Hall and Stapleton Library was dedicated by President Lawrence K. Pettit. A commemorative plaque is affixed to granite provided by Muriel Berman, Allentown. A thirteen-foot remnant of the World Trade Center is on long-term loan to the university from the Kovalchick family of Indiana, Pa. IUP faculty member James Nestor was instrumental in the design of the memorial, which was a joint project of Student Congress and the Office of the President.

Our National Environmental Education and Training Center (NEETC) was founded in 1993, shortly after I arrived at IUP, with the initial mission of addressing hazardous waste clean-up, primarily on military bases around the world. The core discipline at IUP is our nationally acclaimed Safety Sciences program. NEETC began as a partnership among IUP, several national and international labor unions, and two national construction trade associations. Later we brought in additional unions and West Virginia University. NEETC should now be in a position to play a key national role in disaster recovery and disaster site remediation activities.

In addition to these pre-September 11 projects, there are now others at IUP that relate to domestic preparedness, including a partnership with the National Cryptologic School to use distance education modalities for training on the latest advances in electronic surveillance, intercepts, and cryptology and a very new collaborative grant with Georgia State University, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to focus on how communities respond to major calamities.

The university is now seeking additional state and federal funding to bring all of these projects under one umbrella, the Institute for Homeland Security, and to expand our work on behalf of national security. We plan to locate the administrative headquarters of the institute in our new Regional Development Complex, along with other entities that, taken together, will signify that these efforts will also have an economic development payoff. I fully expect that a new industry will grow up around homeland security concerns, and that Western Pennsylvania can become a major center of such activity.

We are proud that IUP is out front in this endeavor. The combination of the Institute for Homeland Security and the Regional Development Complex that will house it will take IUP to the next level in its natural evolution as a university. We now are firmly preempting the technology transfer niche in Pennsylvania, between the major research universities on the one hand and the nondoctoral colleges and universities (which make up most of the state's higher education institutions) on the other.

We have identified our niche, and we are working hard, with the help of alumni and friends, to get a firm grip on it. Initiatives such as those described here will not only add to our credibility as a graduate institution through the doctorate but will enrich our undergraduate curricula.

Part of our doctoral mission is to be an engaged university, using research and training to address national needs and regional development, and in the process we always look for ways to enrich the undergraduate experience as a result of these activities. This is what makes IUP unique, and we hope that readers will share in our excitement and our commitment to taking the university to this next level.