2013 Campaign News

Charging Ahead

National expert to lead broad cyber security initiative at SMU Lyle School of Engineering

September 13, 2013

DALLAS (SMU) – Frederick R. Chang, a recognized national expert in cyber security, has joined SMU to develop a multidisciplinary program aimed at tackling the most pressing cyber challenges facing individuals, business and government today.

Fred Chang welcomed to SMU
SMU welcomes Professor Frederick R. Chang: (l.to r.) SMU President R. Gerald Turner; Professor Chang; Bobby B. Lyle, namesake of the Lyle School of Engineering; Marc P. Christensen, dean of the Lyle School of Engineering; and Caren H. Prothro, chair of the SMU Board of Trustees.


Chang speaks at a welcome for him.

Chang, whose impressive career includes leadership positions in academia, business, and in government at the National Security Agency, is the new Bobby B. Lyle Endowed Centennial Distinguished Chair in Cyber Security.  The position is made possible by a financial commitment from SMU trustee and longtime benefactor Bobby B. Lyle, for whom SMU’s engineering school is named.  

SMU’s first Centennial Distinguished Chair provides a faculty position endowed at $2.5 million, plus start-up funding of $1 million for the first five years to provide immediate support for the position and related research. The establishment of a Centennial endowment is available only to donors during the SMU Centennial commemoration, March 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2015.

In addition to holding the Lyle Chair, Chang also will be a professor of computer science in the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering and a senior fellow in the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.  His appointments to positions in both the Lyle School and Dedman College reflect the interdisciplinary approach he believes is key to effective cyber research.

“Economic and national security are bedrock issues for our country,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Dr. Chang is prepared to take advantage of the University’s commitment to education, research and dialogue to deal with these critical issues, and will bring to the table students and faculty in all disciplines to find solutions.  We are delighted to welcome him to SMU, where our students fully expect to be world changers.”

Chang has aggressive objectives to:

  • Conduct broad programs of research aimed both at creating a science of cyber security and addressing national cyber security priorities.
  • Apply an interdisciplinary approach to challenging problems, incorporating elements from disciplines not traditionally associated with cyber security such as law, business and the social sciences.
  • Help close the skills gap in cyber security by educating and tapping the innovation capabilities of SMU students to meet the demand for trained cyber professionals.

“Prof. Chang arrives at SMU Lyle at an important moment,” said Lyle School Dean Marc Christensen. “The impact of cyber crime and cyber terrorism cannot be overstated. As Prof. Chang joins SMU Lyle to lead our already strong cyber security researchers, he is poised to make a notable difference in this arena.  We will be educating a generation of SMU graduates who understand the complexities of cyber-related issues whether their degree is in computer science or philosophy.  These students will be better suited to live, work, and play in the modern interconnected world.”

Fred Chang
More about Prof. Chang.

Chang served as the director of research at the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2005-2006, where he was awarded the NSA Director’s Distinguished Service Medal.  In addition, he has held several senior executive positions at SBC Communications, prestigious positions at both the University Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at San Antonio, and was most recently president and chief operating officer of 21CT Inc., an advanced intelligence analytics solutions company in Austin.

“Dr. Chang’s experience at the highest levels of government, industry, and academia has given him a unique perspective on the cyber security landscape,” said Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs.   “He has influenced the national dialogue and policies on cyber security through his work at the NSA, his testimony before congressional committees, and his presence on academic and industrial advisory boards as well as his peer journal editorial board work.  He will continue that influence at SMU.”

Joining the Lyle School puts Chang in the company of faculty already making their mark in innovative teaching and research.  The Lyle School is home to the Caruth Institute for Engineering and Education, the Hunter and Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity and the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, as well as STEM outreach programs such as Visioneering and the Infinity Project.  The engineering school also is a partner in the annual production of TEDxSMU and TEDxKids @SMU, where Chang will be a featured speaker in October. 

“Dr. Chang is committed to teaching excellence, and I am delighted he is coming to SMU, “ said Bobby Lyle.  “Research will be significant under his leadership, but he also intends to teach courses that make information about cyber science and security accessible to students of all disciplines.  That’s a tremendous gift, as understanding the rules in cyberspace becomes more important in our daily lives. “

The founder of Lyco Energy Corporation in 1981, Lyle has been a leader in the oil and natural gas industry for more than 30 years, exploring throughout the United States. After selling Lyco Energy in 2005, he established Lyco Holdings Incorporated, a private investment firm.

Lyle graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in mechanical engineering, received a graduate degree in engineering administration from SMU and earned a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He served as a professor and administrator in what is now the Edwin L. Cox School of Business, ultimately serving as dean ad interim and executive dean.

On Oct. 17, 2008, the SMU community celebrated the naming of the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering and evidence of his philanthropy may be seen throughout SMU. Lyle has cumulative service of more than 25 years as an SMU trustee and is a member of the executive boards of both the Lyle School of Engineering and the Cox School of Business.   Lyle is vice chair of the Maguire Energy Institute and vice chair of the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility. 

Chang says he enjoys the sense of working toward something bigger than himself – a philosophy that carries over from his tenure at the NSA, and that he intends to share with SMU students. “There are some very difficult problems that the nation faces in cyber security,” Chang said. “Adding to the enduring problems are new, emerging challenges. I am confident that SMU, working with different partners, can make a difference at the national level.

“My particular area of expertise is in information assurance – defending and protecting critical systems,” he said. “In that context, I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues at SMU and beyond on a wide range of topics such as software assurance, social sciences and security, insider threat and hardware security.”

Chang said he sees outstanding interdisciplinary cyber security research taking place within the Lyle School’s Computer Science and Engineering Department today, such as the work that faculty members Suku Nair, Mitch Thornton and Tyler Moore are doing in network security, formal methods, and economics and security.  “What is required today is cyber security research that incorporates innovative thinking with consideration of people, processes and technology,” Chang said.

He said he is eager to work with colleagues across the campus, including law and business faculty, as well as to use the resources of the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility in addition to those of the Tower Center. 

“It is an honor and a privilege for me to have the opportunity to join SMU at this crucial time in the evolution of cyber security,” Chang said.  “From the Lyle School of Engineering, to the Tower Center for Political Studies and across campus, I feel a tremendous sense of chemistry and collegiality here.  There is also a sense of urgency, purpose and mission that is especially appealing.  To be part of this is tremendously exciting to me.”


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