The University of Central Florida on Thursday was awarded the nation’s highest honor for protecting national security information. UCF is among just 26 organizations and the only institution of higher education to receive the honor this year.

Representatives from the Defense Security Service were on campus to present the James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award to Dela Williams, who runs the security office in UCF’s Office of Research & Commercialization.

Doug Backman, the university’s director of research compliance, thanked campus departments such as the Police Department, Human Resources and Institute for Simulation & Training that help protect secure information for projects such as processing travel clearances for research activities.

The Cogswell Award was started in 1966 in honor of the late Air Force Col. James S. Cogswell, the first chief of the unified office of Industrial Security in the Department of Defense. It is the highest honor the DSS awards from the 13,000 cleared contractors for its National Industrial Security Program, said Regina Johnson, regional director of the Defense Security Service.

UCF President John C. Hitt said the university has the “institutional commitment” to maintain the standards of the program.

To be chosen for the award, organizations must have achieved two consecutive superior industrial security review ratings and go through a vigorous national vetting process that includes external and a national team review.