Executive Leadership

Ken Styron sitting at his desk

Ken Styron


Ken Styron’s role as the president of Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach, Alabama, began on May 1, 2018. Since joining CSU in 2002, Styron has capitalized on decades of experience in information technology to propel the online university forward. His background in software development, information systems and research and development has enabled Styron to lead with a unique perspective built on data and guided by innovation.

During his tenure with CSU, Styron has worked in levels of increasing responsibility including chief operating officer, chief of staff, chief information officer, vice president of instructional design and technology and director of information technology. He holds a Bachelor of Science in information science from the University of South Alabama and an MBA from CSU. He serves on the Mobile Area Council Boy Scouts of America Board.

Janell Gibson

Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Janell Gibson joined Columbia Southern University in 2018 as the university’s vice provost of academic and student affairs. She transitioned into the role of provost and chief academic officer in 2020.

Gibson brings 18 years of higher education experience with an emphasis in online education. She has extensive experience teaching behavioral science and has held various leadership positions at Keiser University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Parker University in Dallas, Texas.

Gibson holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Nova Southeastern University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the conflict analysis and resolution program at Nova Southeastern University.

Close up of Janell Gibson
Close up of Pat Troup

Pat Troup

Chief Financial Officer

Pat Troup, a Mobile, AL native, joined CSU in February 2008 bringing more than 15 years of experience in the areas of accounting, information technology and supply chain management. He currently oversees the departments of accounting & finance, financial aid, student accounts and bookstore operations. Before joining CSU, he was the senior manager of accounting for Southern Progress Corporation, a publisher of lifestyle magazines and books, where his focus was the financial operations of the book publishing and home sales business units. Prior to that, he spent 10 years at Standard Furniture Mfg., Co., where he held a variety of management roles. He began his career as an auditor with Deloitte & Touche LLP.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of South Alabama and is a certified public accountant.

He is a past president and chairman of the board of the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo and a member of the Mobile Jaycees. He is also a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Alabama Society of CPAs.

Scott Oswald

Chief Information Officer

Scott Oswald serves as the chief information officer for Columbia Southern University. Capitalizing on more than 20 years of information technology experience in the corporate sector, Scott brings expansive knowledge and expertise to the role. Founded upon his tenure as a software engineer, Scott’s leadership style focuses on end-user experience, reliability and scalability.

Scott previously served as the vice president of information technology, where he supervised the university’s software development, integration, hardware, network infrastructure and technical support. Scott holds a Bachelor Science in mathematics with a minor in computer science from Troy University.

Close up of Scott Oswald
Eric McHaney sitting at desk.

Eric McHaney

Chief Marketing Officer

Eric McHaney serves as chief marketing officer for Columbia Southern University. In this role, he oversees a division that includes marketing, corporate outreach and community & alumni relations. As an executive with more than 18 years of marketing experience in higher education, Eric brings expansive knowledge and expertise to the role.

Eric’s career began with University of Phoenix Online from 1999-2006 where he was responsible for all direct marketing efforts as the school grew to unprecedented heights. Eric was then hired as the associate vice president of marketing for Grand Canyon University, 2007-2014. At Grand Canyon, he led a team of 30 marketing employees dedicated to growing the university’s student base, increasing the organization’s brand equity and national footprint. As a marketing professional, Eric’s keys to success are integrity, initiative and innovation.

Prior to chief marketing officer, Eric served as the vice president of marketing and outreach.

Chelsea Hoffman

Chief of Staff

Columbia Southern University chief of staff Chelsea Hoffman has more than a decade of experience in higher education. Throughout her 11-year tenure with CSU, Chelsea’s career has spanned across many university departments, affording her the opportunity to acquire diverse experience in the areas of admissions, executive leadership, human resources and information technology. She has served in levels of increasing responsibility, with a continual focus on project management and institutional growth.

Chelsea began working for CSU in 2009 after earning her bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Alabama. She earned her master’s in business administration from Columbia Southern University in 2012 and is currently pursuing her doctorate degree with Capella University.

Close up of Chelsea Hoffman

Institutional Leadership

Close up of Sue Butts

Sue Butts

Vice President, Human Resources

Sue Butts joined the human resources department of CSU in January 2008. During her time at CSU, Sue has served in multiple roles and contributed to many areas within the university. She currently serves as the vice president of human resources. Sue has been in the human resources field for more than 20 years. During this time, she has held positions in the fields of organizational development and human resource management with various companies.

Sue holds senior level certifications from the Human Resource Certification Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management. She also holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in human resource management. She is a member of the National Society for Human Resource Management, Greater Pensacola Chapter Society for Human Resource Management where she has served on the board of directors and Baldwin County Society for Human Resource Management.

Close up of Rick Cooper

Rick Cooper

Vice President, Business Development and Military Initiatives

Rick Cooper serves as the vice president of business development & military initiatives at CSU. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration at CSU in 2002. He manages educational representatives responsible for developing relationships within the military and corporate arena including attending education fairs, base visits and conferences.

He retired from the U.S. Navy in 1998 with a background in aviation and career counseling and worked for DeVry University as an educational representative before joining CSU.

Close up of Craig Taylor

Craig Taylor

Associate Vice President of Finance

Craig Taylor joined CSU in June of 2010 and currently serves as the associate vice president of finance for Columbia Southern University. He brings more than 17 years of experience in accounting and financial reporting and analysis. Craig holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of South Alabama. He is a certified public accountant and a charted global management accountant. He is also a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Alabama Society of CPAs.

Close up of Caroline Walters

Caroline Walters

Vice President of University Relations

Caroline Walters serves as vice president of university relations overseeing corporate outreach, corporate relations, community relations and student and alumni engagement at Columbia Southern University.

Caroline comes to CSU with over 16 years of experience in higher education. She began her career at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, MS where she served in various roles within staff, faculty and administration then served eight years as vice president of advancement, guiding the JCJC Foundation Inc. and JCJC alumni affairs through a time of extraordinary growth. In 2014, Caroline was hired as vice president of advancement for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College where she led not only the foundation and alumni affairs but also marketing, the college archives and recruiting efforts for the college.

Caroline holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Mississippi State University.

Close up of Ed Witherington

Ed Witherington

Associate Vice President of Business Intelligence

Ed Witherington Jr. joined Columbia Southern University in April of 2010. He currently serves as the university’s associate vice president of business intelligence. Ed brings more than 18 years of experience in operations management, analysis and programming to the CSU leadership team.

Ed holds a Bachelor of Science in commercial banking from the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama.

Close up of Charles Mims

Charles Mims

Associate Vice President of Information Technology

Charles Mims joined CSU in 2008 and currently serves as the associate vice president of information technology. With nearly two decades of IT experience, Charles has led teams across varied roles including infrastructure, database administration, communication and cyber security. Prior to joining CSU, he spent five years in the commercial software sector where he worked heavily with cellular and radio communication, law enforcement and cloud platforms. Charles served as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed to Iraq in 2005. With this background in radio communication and cryptography, he is experienced in leading 24x7 mission critical operations.

Charles holds a bachelor’s from the University of West Florida, and holds many industry certifications including ISC2 CISSP, VMware® Certified Professional, Microsoft Certified IT Professional and multiple Dell EMC certifications.

Academic Leadership

Close up of Lee Barnett

Dr. Lee Barnett

Vice Provost of Student Affairs

Dr. Lee Barnett joined Columbia Southern University in May 2019 as the dean and assistant provost for student affairs. In his current role as vice provost of student affairs, he oversees the Student Support Center, Success Center, Office of Student Resolution and Conduct, and Career Services. During his 15-year tenure, Dr. Barnett has also served as a college president, provost, dean and professor. Dr. Barnett has served in various leadership roles within the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education and as a board member for the Alabama chapter of National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Dr. Barnett holds a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Belmont University, two master’s degrees in religious studies and youth ministry and a D.Min. in leadership from Liberty University. He also holds an Ed.S. and Ph.D. in adult education from Auburn University. A lifelong scholar across multiple disciplines, Dr. Barnett has authored several publications.

Close up of Khalilah Burton

Dr. Khalilah Burton

Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Compliance

Khalilah Burton, Ed.D., joined Columbia Southern University in April 2013 as the director of curriculum planning and outcomes assessment. Prior to joining CSU, Dr. Burton served as a biology instructor for J.F. Drake State Technical College, Lawson State Community College, Alabama A&M University, and Faulkner University.

Dr. Burton played a vital role in institutional accreditation efforts as the outcomes assessment and institutional effectiveness and planning leader. Additionally, she has prior experience working with higher education institutions on accreditation projects for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Dr. Burton earned her Bachelor of Science in biology and Master of Science in biology with a concentration in microbiology from Alabama A&M University. She holds a Doctor of Education in community college leadership from Morgan State University. Dr. Burton currently serves as an accreditation evaluator and member of the standards committee for the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

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Dr. Elwin Jones

Dean, College of Business and Assistant Provost

Elwin Jones joined CSU in 2008 as an adjunct faculty member and served as chair of undergraduate business, dean of faculty services, and the interim dean of the College of Business. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of West Florida, a master’s degree in business administration from Capella University, and a doctorate in business administration and organizational leadership from Northcentral University.

With more than 25 years of leadership experience with Walmart Stores, Inc., Elwin brings a vast knowledge of business and leadership practices to CSU. He is a member of the Southern Management Association, American Conference of Academic Deans, current board president of Milk and Honey Ministries in Pensacola, Fla., leads leadership classes in Brazil, and is active at Heritage Baptist Church in Cantonment, Fla. Elwin has served on the board of directors of the Better Business Bureau of Northwest Florida, a past board president of the First Tee of Northwest Florida, and United Way of Escambia County Distribution Committee.

Close up of Misti Kill

Dr. Misti Kill

Vice Provost of Academic Affairs
Dean, College of Safety and Emergency Services

Since joining CSU in 2012, Misti Kill, Ph.D., has served the university in multiple capacities, including faculty, academic program director and assistant provost. She currently resides as the vice provost of academic affairs and dean for the College of Safety and Emergency Services. In addition to her decade of experience in higher education, Dr. Kill has engaged as a faculty reviewer for the American Council on Education (ACE) and been active in the safety field for several years. She also is engaged with the International Association of Emergency Managers, having served as a member of its diversity committee, and as commissioner of its scholarship committee.

A graduate from North Dakota State University and Minnesota State University Moorhead, she earned degrees in criminal justice and sociology. She obtained her doctorate in emergency management.

Close up of Joe Manjone

Dr. Joe Manjone

Assistant Provost of Special Programs

A longtime member of the CSU family, he has served as president of Waldorf University from 2009-2011 and as CSU provost. Manjone holds a bachelor’s degree in math, a master’s degree in sports administration from Penn State, and a doctorate in sports administration from the University of Georgia. He has been a long time sports official and was inducted into the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Hall of Fame in 2013. He is a current member and former chair of the National Federation Soccer Rules Committee. In 2009, Manjone was also awarded the Vietnam medal for promoting education in Vietnam. Dr. Manjone served director of continuing education and of sport, travel and tourism at the University of Alabama- Huntsville, regional sports director for the U.S. Army in Europe, and in academic and sports administrator positions with Penn State, Frostburg State University, Shepherd University, and Lander University.

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Dr. Sonya Rogers

Dean, College of Arts and Sciences and Assistant Provost

Dr. Sonya Rogers, assistant provost and dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, joined Columbia Southern University in 2009. Rogers previously served as the chair for CSU’s College of Business, as well as the lead and academic program director for its MBA and organizational leadership programs. Rogers has written several leadership courses for CSU, as well as served on various academic committees within the university. Her professional experience includes serving more than 20 years as a supervisor in organizational management, and marketing and public relations. She has counseled, coached and taught at various businesses and universities. She has led undergraduate and graduate courses in leadership, English, communication, psychology and team building. Rogers is a published newspaper columnist and an author of case studies, journal articles and children's books. She holds a doctorate in organizational leadership, a master’s certification in counseling, a master’s in education, and a bachelor’s in psychology and human services. She is Quality Matters certified.