KU News: $2.4M grant to expand KU undergraduate degrees in intelligence and national security program

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$2.4 million grant to expand KU undergraduate degrees in intelligence and national security program
LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has received a $2.4 million grant from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to add undergraduate degrees in biotechnology, information technology and cybersecurity to its existing intelligence and national security program. Additionally, Garden City Community College and Kansas City Community College will now join the Kansas Consortium, which has included KU, Dodge City Community College and Seward County Community College.

What’s in a name? Magic, in author’s Birdverse
LAWRENCE — The power of a name is an important concept to R.B. (Renee) Perelmutter, as the associate professor is known to students and fellow faculty in the University of Kansas Jewish Studies Program and Department of Slavic, German & Eurasian Studies. Writing as R.B. Lemberg, the author has published their first fantasy novel, “The Unbalancing,” through Tachyon Publications. A launch party is planned at 7 p.m. today, Sept. 20, at The Raven Book Store.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Mike Denning, Office of Military Graduate Programs, 785-864-1684, [email protected]
$2.4 million grant to expand KU undergraduate degrees in intelligence and national security program
LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has received a $2.4 million grant from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to add undergraduate degrees in biotechnology, information technology and cybersecurity to its existing intelligence and national security program.
Additionally, Garden City Community College and Kansas City Community College will now join the Kansas Consortium, which has included KU, Dodge City Community College and Seward County Community College.
The grant is made possible through the ODNI’s Intelligence Community Centers for Academic Excellence (IC CAE) program, which was established in 2005 to meet the nation’s demand for a diverse cadre of professionals to carry out the nation’s security priorities and obligations. Through the program, a select group of about 40 institutions across the nation is educating students in multidisciplinary areas of interest to the intelligence community to better understand the intelligence community and its role in securing the nation. KU was initially named an IC CAE program in 2017.

“Our intelligence and national security certificate and minor have been very popular credentials for undergraduates from all academic disciplines,” said John Kennedy, chair of the Department of Political Science. “Additionally, our IC CAE designation is recognized by the hiring officials throughout the intelligence community. Several graduates of our program are already working in the intelligence community.”
KU’s investigating team includes Randy Logan, director of the biotechnology degree program; Carolyn McKnight, senior director of community engagement at the KU Edwards Campus; Carl Taylor, chief security officer for KU; and Mike Denning, director of the Office of Graduate Military Programs.
“This grant will capitalize on KU Edwards Campus’ previous work in reducing barriers and creating academic pathways for community college students to complete bachelor degrees in high-demand fields,” said Logan, the principal investigator for the award. “Moreover, this award is well-aligned with KU’s Jayhawks Rising strategic plan, which aims to offer programs that make the transition to KU smoother and lead to meaningful employment.”
The nine-year grant includes funding for minority student scholarships, faculty research grants and curriculum development.

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Contact: Rick Hellman, KU News Service, 785-864-8852, [email protected], @RickHellman
What’s in a name? Magic, in author’s Birdverse
LAWRENCE — The power of a name is an important concept to R.B. (Renee) Perelmutter, as the associate professor is known to students and fellow faculty in the University of Kansas Jewish Studies Program and Department of Slavic, German & Eurasian Studies.
“Names in general are of perpetual interest to me,” Perelmutter said. “It’s a research interest, a creative interest and a personal interest. I, myself, have changed names a number of times.”
Thus, names are important, too, to the writer/poet R.B. Lemberg, Perelmutter’s author name, in their first novel set in the fantasy realm known as the Birdverse. The new book from Tachyon Publications, “The Unbalancing,” follows Lemberg’s acclaimed 2020 novella, “The Four Profound Weaves,” which was shortlisted for that year’s Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy and Ignyte awards.

Lemberg will read from the new book as part of a launch party at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, at The Raven Book Store.
One of the two protagonists of “The Unbalancing,” the nonbinary poet Erígra Lilún, calls upon the magic of their “deepname” in an attempt to stave off a looming ecological disaster. Lemberg explained the concept, which is central to the action in the Birdverse.
“I envision deepnames as a kind of a neurolinguistic feature, a type of neurodivergence that can be invoked at will,” the author said. “If you put somebody who has this magic into an fMRI machine … the places where the deepnames reside in the mind would light up. It is obviously a fantasy premise. But that’s what started this whole thing.”
More importantly, the author said, as canonized in the Birdverse works:
“Deepnames can be triggered by invocation — either spoken out loud or whispered or even spoken inside the mind. Then you can do magic with it. You have the magical ability to see it. It’s like a star or constellation that floats around your head, and we can use these geometrical structures to affect the world.”
“It’s a neat magic system that is based on language, because in order to acquire deepnames, but also in order to know what to do with the deepnames, you need to understand how language is produced. It really has to do with breath; how you train your breath to produce particular sounds. … I love when readers geek out over this magical system and ask me details. It’s awesome.”
Even more thrilling, the author said, are notes from readers saying how much the Birdverse stories, poems and books, with what one critic in Library Journal called their “deeply queer” viewpoint, mean to them.
“I just want to feel that my community finds my work meaningful,” Lemberg said. “And I’ve been rewarded in my career by hearing back from people who read my work when they’re feeling down, or who have special place on their shelves for my books because they affirm their lives. People came out and figured out who they are because of my work. There’s no higher honor for me as a writer than this.”
Without giving away any plot spoilers, the author said “The Unbalancing” is “my queer Atlantis.”
“It is a novel about failure. What happens when communities fail — the best communities, out of the best intentions? What happens when systems fail?
“I wrote it in 2020, during the pandemic, when I think many of us were grappling with these questions of where we’re going and what is going to happen. I think many of us are still grappling with these questions. I wrote this book after a very dear friend of mine passed away suddenly at a young age. It still is very heavy for me, and so I wanted to write something that would be both sad and uplifting at the same time. I didn’t want it to be a disaster book. I wanted it to be full of queer joy and hope. I hope that both those emotions are there.”
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Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of news and media relations, [email protected]

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