ECU named 2019 Red Hat Academy of the Year

For the second year in a row, East Carolina University’s Department of Technology Systems was named the Red Hat Academy of the Year. Pictured with the awards are, from left, teaching instructors Lee Toderick and Brian Miller, Dr. Phil Lunsford, associate professor, and Dr. Tijjani Mohammed, associate professor and chair of the Department of Technology Systems. (Photo by Ken Buday)

Red Hat, a multinational software company based in Raleigh, has named East Carolina University as its 2019 Red Hat Academy of the Year.

The award is the second straight for ECU, which offers Red Hat Academy (RHA) curriculum through the Department of Technology Systems in the College of Engineering and Technology.

“This worldwide recognition is testament to the hard work and tenacity of our faculty members who sacrifice so much in order to maintain both their content knowledge and the curriculum in step with the fast-changing world of IT,” said Dr. Tijjani Mohammed, associate professor and chair of the Department of Technology Systems.“ECU prides itself with delivering high quality, current, and accessible technology-based degree programs both on campus and online. This is achieved through partnerships with IT companies, such as Red Hat, who work in sync with our dedicated faculty members to help us deliver the most up-to-date curriculum to our diverse student population.

“Our faculty members commit a significant amount of time on professional development; countless hours updating content, creating and testing new lab exercises, troubleshooting and debugging the instructional environment; and much more. An award like this, along with high demand for our graduates, reinforce the fact that we are doing the right thing.”

Red Hat also recognized Lee Toderick, a teaching instructor in the Department of Technology Systems, as its Innovator of the Year for 2019.

Officials with Red Hat gather for the Red Hat Academy Fall Kickoff Aug. 21, outside the Main Campus Student Center at East Carolina University. (Photo by Ken Buday)

“Lee Toderick takes an interactive teaching style with his approach for new courses by bringing students in to build out the new lab environments,” said Trisha Turlington, senior business development manager for RHA. “Beyond his enthusiasm to integrate new Red Hat technologies into ECU’s course offerings, Lee has also been an integral person to continually volunteer to test out new program features and mentor other instructors.”

Toderick was named Red Hat’s Instructor of the Year in both 2017 and 2018.

“The Red Hat Academy provides professional quality curriculum and hands-on labs that our students perform to gain experience,” Toderick said. “We have adapted their curriculum so our courses are offered both online and face to face, and our labs are performed online and are graded immediately with no delay for the student. If the student doesn’t like the score, he or she can redo it without waiting a week to get it returned. That’s a big deal.”

About 300 students went through the Red Hat Academy program during 2018-19. The courses provide skills for students to become Linux open source operating system administrators or engineers.

“ECU continually engages in new program offerings for the RHA program,” Turlington said. “They have been a huge supporter of our Adopt-An-Academy program — bringing in Red Hat industry professionals to share with students the real-world implications of Red Hat technologies and provide application as to how they will use the skillsets they are learning through the RHA program at ECU in their future careers.”

Students gather for the Red Hat Kickoff Event Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, outside the Main Campus Student Center at East Carolina University. (Photo by Ken Buday)

Turlington said ECU was the first university in North America to integrate Red Hat’s Containers, Kubernetes and OpenShift into the curriculum.

“OpenShift and Container technologies play a huge role in today’s IT market, and ECU is leading the way for other academic institutions by piloting this curriculum in the academic setting,” Turlington said.

ECU has been a Red Hat Academy since 2005.

“ECU became the first on-campus testing center to offer Red Hat certification exams to students,” Turlington said. “This was a huge accomplishment and offers a benefit to ECU students as it provides them the opportunity to take Red Hat certification exams in a familiar, convenient environment.”

For more information on the Red Hat Academy and other courses in the Department of Technology systems, visit


— By Ken Buday, University Communications