Cyber Education and Research Center welcomes record turnout for Security Matters 2024 event

By MSU Public Relations | May 8, 2024

from left to right: Mike Nemes, Jason Howell , Mary Beth Imes, and Dr. Bob Jackson.

Pictured are the Dick Anderson Leadership Award winners, from left to right: Senator Mike Nemes, Senator Jason Howell and Representative Mary Beth Imes. They are pictured with Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson.


MURRAY, Ky. – The annual Patterns of Distinction Awards Luncheon and Security Matters Conference, hosted by Murray State University’s Cyber Education and Research Center, took place on April 25th in the Curris Center with nearly 300 attendees in person, a record turnout for the event. Security Matters was co-hosted by Community Financial Services Bank (CFSB) and sponsors included Kaseya Inc, System Solutions Inc., DEVsource and the West Kentucky Gear Up Program.

The Security Matters conference is the largest technology/security event in the region. It is free to attend and offers local businesses, security personnel, Murray State students and high school students from around the region the opportunity to hear from industry professionals about a variety of issues and topics. Speakers included Joe Robertson (Senior IT Director of ESCO Technologies), Jerry Beckley (Vice President of Computing and IT from West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative), Doug Cecil (Global Program Manager for Caterpillar Inc.), Phillip Ross (Security Analyst/Interim Manager for the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security), Colin Glover (Cybersecurity Coordinator for Kentucky-Region IV) and Forrest Carver (Practice Manager for Praetorian). 

The conference included the 16th annual Patterns of Distinction Awards Luncheon, which kicked off with the awarding of the Nathan B. Stubblefield Distinguished Lecture Award presented to Murray State University President Dr. Bob Jackson. Jackson provided the attendees with an inspiring speech about the future of Cybersecurity and Murray State University. 

Other notable awards included:

• The Dick Anderson Leadership Award: Representative Mary Beth Imes, Senator Jason Howell and Senator Mike Nemes

• The Gary Brockway Faculty/Staff Excellence Award: Dr. Randall Joyce, assistant professor and Cybersecurity and Network Management program coordinator, School of Engineering, Murray State University

• The Cyber Studies Distinguished Alumni Award: Hunter Evans, senior security specialist, Microsoft; Duane Dycus, information security officer, Murray State University

• The John Williams Entrepreneurship Award: Johnny Sanders, SOMA Cyber 

• The Lana Garner Porter Women in Technology Award: Monica Bilak, executive director, Sprocket, Inc.  

• The Dr. Gene Wells Ray Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Trevor Bonstetter, chief executive officer, West Kentucky and Tennessee Telecommunications Cooperative

In addition to these awards, several scholarships were awarded to Murray State students that are currently pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree within the field of Cybersecurity and Network Management. Most notably, Dr. Mike Bowman awarded his scholarship, the Mike and Cindy Bowman Scholarship, to a military veteran student, Michael Calvert (Murray, Kentucky). The Dr. James Gantt National Advisory Board Scholarship was awarded to Megan Reynolds (Virginia, Illinois), Diya Patel (Paris, Tennessee) and Clayton Cope (Benton, Kentucky). The Dr. Gene Wells Ray Scholarship was awarded to Landon Shupe (Benton, Kentucky), Spencer Bugg (Gilbertsville, Kentucky) and Garret Gardner (Madisonville, Kentucky).

“Our annual Security Matters conference was a wonderful event with a record number of attendees this year,” Murray State President Dr. Bob Jackson said. “We are very proud of our 25+ year statewide Program of Distinction in Cybersecurity and Network Management, and it was a great honor to recognize our legislators, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community partners. Senator Jason Howell, Senator Mike Nemes and Representative Mary Beth Imes were instrumental, along with their colleagues, in appropriating $10 million dollars in the new state biennium budget for important enhancements to advance our Cyber Education and Research Center.”

The conference and luncheon were streamed online and recorded on the Cyber Center YouTube channel at

The Cyber Center and the Cybersecurity and Network Management program are part of the award-winning statewide Program of Distinction at Murray State University. The program provides degree tracks in cybersecurity, wireless communications, and network and systems administration. Cybersecurity and Network Management focuses on cybersecurity and network infrastructure in the rapidly growing field of technology. It is an interdisciplinary program that provides students with a solid foundation in cybersecurity technologies and applying those technologies in a business environment.

In addition to the Security Matters Conference, the Murray State Cyber Center will host its annual IT Matters Conference at the Murray State University Paducah Regional Campus in September. The Security Matters Conference and Patterns of Distinction Awards Luncheon will be held again in April 2025 with CFSB.  

Murray State’s Cybersecurity and Network Management program recently placed within the top 10 nationally among 400 institutions through a community outreach competition by the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

Learn more about Murray State’s Cybersecurity and Network Management program at

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