Dr. Ward and Dr. Butler: From Battlefields to Cyberspace

As part of our fundraising campaign for the David Ward Memorial Bench and Scholarship, Dr. William Butler, a dear friend of Dr. Ward and a prominent figure in Capitol's cyber history (who now serves as Capitol's VP of Academic Affairs), has written the following account of the wonderful years the two spent knowing each other. 


I met Dr. David Ward in 1994 while transitioning off active duty. We met at my first reserve unit at HQMC C4I IMA Detachment. I was a young 1stLt and Dave was a Major. We became instant friends, and he became my mentor and helped me transition to civilian life successfully. His advice led me to great opportunities at Booz Allen and Sprint as a Network Engineer and later Manager.

Dave was always quick with a lawyer joke (after all, he was a lawyer) but was brilliant at discussing any topic with anyone. He was the rare combination of telecommunications engineer and lawyer which made him very valuable to the Marine Corps and the FCC. 

For example, our unit conducted the first Marine Corps wide risk assessment of communications systems and their vulnerabilities in report form. This effort launched my interest in network security at the time and set the stage for what we would accomplish at the university, then named Capitol College. Dave attended my wedding too, and we often visited with his lovely wife and two daughters. 

Fast forward to the years 1999 and 2000, Dave was busy creating the MS in Network Security program, and more importantly delivering the program synchronously online (rare in those days). One other crucial element of this new program was the concept of virtual hands-on labs which also separated the program from all known competitors. Dave’s vision and hard work led to the nation’s first MS in cybersecurity delivered synchronously online. Dave taught the cyber law course, which any student graduating with a 3.9 will tell you was tough!

Dave invited many Marines and soldiers he knew, myself included, to teach in this new uniquely delivered program. My initial response was “Capitol who?” and besides, I didn’t believe in online education, no thanks Dave. But Dave persisted throughout 2001 until 9/11 occurred and I was recalled for a year to deploy to Egypt and Kuwait in support of OEF. 

Upon my return in 2002, Dave finally wore me down and I agreed to co-teach a course in firewalls and IDS with him. The first night of class he introduced me, introduced the syllabus, and signed off saying “Bill, you got it from here!” My first few nights were rough indeed, but I settled in eventually because Dave saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.

In 2010, Dave researched and designed the nation’s first DSc in Information Assurance (now cybersecurity). This degree is still our most popular Doctoral program and the premiere degree of its kind in the US. Dave would later serve as an asset on my Dissertation committee, advising me on illegal cell tower intercept law.

 I can honestly say that without question David Ward is the sole reason I came to Capitol and continue his legacy of excellence and service to others. His drive to serve and respect others, to always be excellent and be first were instilled in me. Everyone that has earned a degree in cybersecurity in these last 20 years owes it to the vision and energy of LtCol David Ward, USMS (Ret.). 

The work that we began at HQMC C4I convinced him that the nation needed cyber warriors, and needed them now. Enrollments from the Marine Corps fueled the first waves of students immediately after 9/11. Dave pursued designation from the NSA/DHS CAE program in 2003, and in 2004 had us create the BS in Information Assurance (now cybersecurity) which to this day is the most popular undergraduate degree. The twenty-year-old MS Cybersecurity Program is still the most popular master’s program at Capitol. The cyber programs at Capitol were recognized by the prestigious SC magazine as best in the nation in 2020 and runner up in 2021. 

The legacy left behind by Dr. David O. Ward deserves to be recognized and financially supported by you. Your gift will provide much needed funds for a memorial bench to be placed outside McGowan Hall and a scholarship fund for deserving students. You simply cannot discuss cyber at Capitol without remembering David Ward….Dave, I know you are guarding the pearly gates as all Marines do and looking down at the legacy you created and the hundreds of people you touched and made laugh with a good lawyer joke…