Auburn University taps former US Defense Intelligence chief to lead security and cyber initiatives

Lt. Gen. Ron BurgessAUBURN UNIVERSITY – Lt. Gen. Ron Burgess, a 38-year U.S. Army veteran who spent much of his career in the upper levels of military intelligence and security, will join Auburn University as senior counsel for national security programs, cyber programs and military affairs. His appointment begins Dec. 1.

A 1974 Auburn graduate, Burgess served as director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency from 2009 until July 2012, prior to his retirement from the Army in September. At Auburn he will work in coordination with the university’s Office of the Vice President for Research, providing guidance, direction and support to a broad range of interdisciplinary research initiatives.

“Gen. Burgess is a heavyweight player in the defense intelligence arena,” said David Umphress, associate professor of computer science and software engineering. “We are looking to him to help us develop a big-picture perspective of how the software cyber security research being conducted by the finest students around can be shaped to the benefit of the nation.”

Burgess will be an integral part of the Auburn University Cyber Initiative, and his office will be located at the new cyber training and laboratory facilities in the Auburn University Regional Airport.

“Having Gen. Burgess at Auburn will give us a strong voice in national and homeland security policies and cue our cyber research toward major national contributions,” said Drew Hamilton, professor of computer science and software engineering.

Working with faculty and research staff, Burgess will specifically promote and advance Auburn University’s technical expertise and leadership in cyber education and training; open source intelligence and analysis; and cyber security to include information assurance, intrusion detection and critical infrastructure protection.

“Gen. Burgess’ strategic vision is to grow our research enterprise, foster economic development and create opportunities for Auburn experts by matching their capabilities with business and federal agencies at the highest level,” said John Mason, Auburn associate provost and vice president for research. “He will interface with federal, state and commercial entities on national security interests, cyber programs and military concerns.”

Today, the United States, its military and intelligence communities face a mounting array of unconventional and unique challenges ranging from reduced budgets and force levels, to subtle and unforeseen cyber threats to financial systems, infrastructure, energy resources and even the security of the food supply. At the same time, increasing numbers of volunteer forces who have sacrificed much over the past decade are now entering the workforce as veterans seeking civilian employment in a highly competitive and increasingly complex and technical job market.

In response to these needs, Auburn University is continually seeking ways to strengthen and expand its partnership with the U.S. military; focus research efforts on finding solutions to these demanding security challenges; and develop programs and training that can assist veterans as they transition from the military to the civilian workforce.

The Auburn University Cyber Initiative fosters interdisciplinary research programs. In 2012, the Alabama State Legislature issued a joint resolution recognizing AUCI for its support of economic development in the state of Alabama. In an effort to provide further resources to this critical initiative, AUCI will now have access to Burgess’ world-class expertise in intelligence.

Contact: Larry Fillmer, Auburn University, (334) 844-6140 (, or
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (