The head of Homeland Security appointed the son of an uneducated carpenter reared in the rural suburb of Afghanistan - who is also an accomplished author, engineer and president of San Jose State University - to a prestigioius advisory council to provide advice to the federal government.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on Wednesday announced the appointment of Mohammad H. Qayoumi to the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council, comprised of university presidents and academic leaders. He, along with a list of about 20 others from around the country, is charged with advising the secretary and senior leadership at the department.
“Dr. Qayoumi’s extensive experience and expertise will make him a valuable asset to the council,” Napolitano said in a statement. “I look forward to working with him on these critical issues.”
In this position, Qayoumi will provide advice and recommendations on issues related to student and recent graduate recruitment; international students; academic research and faculty exchange; campus resilience; and homeland security academic programs. Qayoumi will also serve as chair of the council's new subcommittee on cybersecurity, which will advise on the department’s cybersecurity recruitment and workforce education efforts.
“The mission of the (council) reflects San Jose State’s role as the leading public university powering Silicon Valley,” Qayoumi said. “Among our priorities are attracting the brightest minds to our campus, where we provide academic and pre-professional opportunities to the tech industry workforce of the future.”
Qayoumi is spearheading plans for the nation’s first university-based cybersecurity center, which will take a cross-disciplinary approach to workforce development. SJSU also will host the U.S. Cyber Challenge Western Regional Summer Cyber Camp for the second consecutive year.
Qayoumi came from meager beginnings, and his life and career have continued to soar.
According to his own biography, Qayoumi's father only had an elementary school education and his mother had no schooling. Both encouraged their six children to pursue education.
He holds a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from the American University of Beirut. He holds four degrees from the University of Cincinnati: a master’s in nuclear engineering, a master’s in electrical and computer engineering, an MBA and a doctorate in electrical engineering.
He served as president of California State University East Bay from 2006 to 2011. He came to Cal State East Bay from California State University Northridge, where he served as vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer from 2000 to 2006, and was also a tenured professor of engineering management.
In addition to serving his native Afghanistan as senior advisor to the country’s minister of finance and as a member of the board of directors for the Central Bank of Afghanistan, Qayoumi is a member of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and serves on several local boards.
When he's not busy running a campus, or publishing books, Qayoumi loves spending time with his family. He is married to Najia Karim, a Persian poet and clinical dietician at Eden Medical Center. Qayoumi’s hobbies include travel, reading philosophy and religion, and listening to classical music.