At the 25th anniversary CERIAS Symposium on March 29, we made a special awards presentation.
Unfortunately, I had lost my voice. Joel Rasmus read my remarks (included in what follows). I want to stress that these comments were heartfelt from all of us, especially me.
25 years ago, I agreed to start something new—something, unlike anything that had existed at Purdue before. I soon discovered that it was unlike any other academic center others had encountered: a multidisciplinary center built around the concept of increasing the security and safety of people by addressing problems from, and with, computing. I note that I wasn’t the only faculty member involved. Core faculty at the time were Sam Wagstaff, Mike Atallah, and Carla Brodley, then in our School of ECE. Sam and Mike have been steady contributors for more than 25 years (stretching back to the pre-CERIAS, COAST days); as an Emeritus Professor, Sam is still working with us.
I knew I needed help making the new entity succeed. My first step was hiring some great staff—Andra Nelson (now Martinez) and Steve Hare were the first two new hires; the late Marlene Walls was already working for me. Those three played a huge role in getting CERIAS running and helping with an initial strategic plan. We have recognized them in the past (and will feature them prominently in the history of CERIAS when I get around to writing it).
I quickly followed those hires by organizing an advisory board. Some of the members were personnel from the organizations that were committed to supporting us. Others were people in senior positions in various agencies and companies. And a few were friends who worked in related areas.
Those choices seem to have worked out pretty well. CERIAS grew from four involved faculty in April 1998 to (as of March 2023) 163. We went from four supporting companies and agencies to two dozen. We have thousands of alumni and worldwide recognition. There is considerable momentum for excellence and growth in the years to come.
CERIAS has benefited from the counsel, support, and leadership of scores of wonderful people from strategic partner organizations who served on the External Advisory Board over the years. However, some particularly stand out because they went above and beyond in their efforts to help CERIAS succeed. On this special occasion of our 25th anniversary, we recognize six exceptional advisors who helped CERIAS succeed and be what it is today.
(Unfortunately, due to various issues, none were present at the Symposium in person to receive the awards. This post is to share with everyone else how much we value their history with us.)
We are bestowing five silver Foundation Award Medals to these individuals:
These five people provided assistance above and beyond what we expected, and we will be forever grateful.
We had one final, special award.
Timothy Grance has been a mainstay at NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology) for decades. You can find his name on many of the reports and standards NIST has issued and other computing and cybersecurity activities. He’s not as well known as many of our advisors because he prefers to provide quiet, steady contributions. Most importantly to CERIAS, Tim has great vision and is one of the rare people who can find ways to help others work together to solve problems. He is inspirational, thoughtful, and cares deeply about the future. These qualities have undoubtedly been useful in his job at NIST, but he brought those same skills to work for CERIAS at Purdue and even before as an advisor to COAST.
For the last 25 years, Tim was (and continues to be) an honored member of the External Advisory Board. He has attended countless board meetings and events over the years — all at his personal expense. He made introductions for us across a wide variety of institutions—academic, governmental, and commercial—and hosted some of the EAB meetings. He has always provided sage advice, great direction, and quiet support for all we have done. Despite being somewhat limited by a significant stroke a few years ago, he fought back courageously and returned to CERIAS for our Symposium and Board meeting. We reserve a chair for him even when he cannot travel to be with us.
Tim’s commitment to the field, especially to CERIAS, make him a national treasure. We are proud also to consider him a CERIAS treasure, and thus award the Gold Foundation Award Medal to Timothy Grance.
We conclude with sincere thanks, not only to these six wonderful people, but to all those who, over the years, have provided support, advice, time, equipment, funding, problem sets, and simply good cheer. That CERIAS has made it 25 years successfully and continues to grow and innovate is a testament to the importance of the problems and the willingness of such a large community to help address them. Time has only grown the problem set, but everyone associated with CERIAS is ready and willing to take them on. We all look forward to continuing our engagement with the community in doing so!