Executive Leadership

Headshot of Ken Styron the president of CSU

Ken Styron, DBA


Dr. Ken Styron has utilized decades of experience in higher education, business and technology to advance Columbia Southern University. Since joining the university in 2002, Dr. Styron has overseen critical areas of influence including information technology, instructional design, marketing and outreach.

Dr. Styron was appointed as president in May 2018. During this time, he has leveraged his diverse professional background and expertise in the areas of technology and development to expand CSU’s mission with a unique perspective built on servant leadership and guided by innovation. He uses a student-centered approach to provide the best quality services and education to CSU’s students.

One of his proudest accomplishments was leading the university’s effort to achieve Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) accreditation in December 2022. This accomplishment effectively allowed Columbia Southern University to become one of the most affordable, completely online SACS-COC-accredited universities.

Dr. Styron holds a Bachelor of Science in information science from the University of South Alabama, an MBA from CSU, and a Doctor of Business Administration from Capella University. He serves on the board of directors for the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance and the board of directors for the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the Mobile Area Council Boy Scouts of America Board, a role that allows him to contribute to the development of tomorrow’s leaders and give back to his community.

Dr. Janell Gibson

Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Senior Vice President

Dr. 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.

Dr. Gibson has more than 25 years of higher education experience with an emphasis in online education, institutional and programmatic accreditation, program development, student success and retention. She has extensive experience teaching behavioral science courses and has held various leadership positions at Keiser University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Parker University in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Gibson believes in a student-centered approach with an emphasis on collaborative learning and exceptional service.

Dr. Gibson holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Nova Southeastern University and a Ph.D. in conflict analysis and resolution with concentrations in global and community conflict from Nova Southeastern University.

Close up of Janell Gibson
Close up of Pat Troup

Pat Troup

Chief Financial Officer

Pat Troup joined the Columbia Southern University team in February 2008. A certified public accountant, Troup’s tenure includes decades of experience in the areas of accounting, information technology and supply chain management. Serving as the university’s chief financial officer, he currently oversees the departments of accounting and finance, financial aid, student accounts and bookstore operations.

Before joining CSU, Mr. Troup headed up the financial operations for the book publishing and home sales units of Southern Progress Corporation. Prior to that role, he spent 10 years at Standard Furniture Manufacturing, where he held a variety of management roles. Mr. Troup began his career as an auditor with Deloitte & Touche, LLP.

Mr. Troup holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of South Alabama and a Master of Business Administration from Louisiana State University Shreveport. He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Alabama Society of CPAs. Mr. Troup formerly served as the president and chairman of the board for the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo and was a member of the Mobile Jaycees.

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 of Science in mathematics with a minor in computer science from Troy University.

Close up of Scott Oswald
Headshot of Dale Leatherwood the CMO of CSU

Dale Leatherwood

Chief Marketing Officer

Dale Leatherwood serves as chief marketing officer for Columbia Southern University, joining in June 2022. In this role, he oversees a division that includes marketing, corporate outreach and community & alumni relations. With more than 24 years of marketing and executive experience in training and higher education, Dale brings an expansive knowledge and expertise to his current role.

Before joining Columbia Southern University, Dale was the vice president of brand, public relations and communications for American Public Education, Inc. (APEI), a publicly traded higher education company, and was vice president of marketing for Rasmussen University before its acquisition by APEI. During his extensive career, Dale has been a marketing executive for colleges and higher-education focused marketing agencies, and has developed and led two online college campuses. In addition, he has served as a consultant with several universities on marketing and distance-learning initiatives while co-founding an education concierge firm serving working professionals seeking an online degree.

Dale earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Coker University and an MBA with a marketing concentration from Regis University.

Brian Belliveau

Chief Growth Officer

Brian Belliveau serves as chief growth officer for Columbia Southern University, joining in May 2023. Belliveau holds more than 20 years of higher education experience with a focus on institutional growth and development. With experience working with multiple departments to create strategic growth, Belliveau utilizes a collaborative approach to help build a dynamic team environment and streamline processes for student success.

Before joining CSU, Belliveau served Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design as vice president of admissions. Using his own military experience, Belliveau developed a military support program aimed at ensuring the needs of military students were met across multiple departments.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business marketing from the University of Phoenix and an MBA from the University of Redlands.

Brian Belliveau, Chief Growth Officer

Institutional Leadership

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.

headshot of close 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

Vice President of Business Intelligence

Ed Witherington Jr. joined Columbia Southern University in April of 2010. He currently serves as the university’s vice president of business intelligence. Ed brings more than 20 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. He also holds a master's in business intelligence and data analytics from St. Mary's University of Minnesota.

Close up of Charles Mims

Charles Mims

Vice President of Information Technology

Charles Mims joined CSU in 2008 and currently serves as the 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 Misti Kill

Dr. Misti Kill

Senior Vice Provost

Since joining Columbia Southern University in 2012, Misti Kill, Ph.D., has served the university in multiple capacities, including faculty, academic program director and assistant provost. She currently serves as senior vice provost of academic affairs. 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 a prominent, active influence in the safety and fire science industries. 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 Elwin jones

Dr. Elwin Jones

Vice Provost, Doctoral Center
Dean, College of Business and Technology

Elwin Jones, Ph.D., 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 and Technology. He currently serves as the vice provost for CSU’s Doctoral Center and the dean for the College of Business and Technology. He holds 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., Dr. Jones 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 an active member of Heritage Baptist Church in Cantonment, Fla. Dr. Jones has served on the board of directors of the Better Business Bureau of Northwest Florida, is a former board president of the First Tee of Northwest Florida, and served on the United Way of Escambia County Distribution Committee.

close up of Sonya Kopp

Dr. Sonya Kopp

Vice Provost, Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Compliance

Sonya Kopp, Ed.D., is the vice provost of institutional effectiveness, planning, and compliance at Columbia Southern University. She has more than 25 years of experience in K-12 education, private language academies, higher education, and corporate communications. She began her CSU career in 2010 and has served in a variety of roles within the university, including assistant provost, SACSCOC accreditation; assistant provost, curriculum planning and accreditation; director, curriculum planning; assistant director, academic advising services; team manager, academic advising services; and academic advisor.

Dr. Kopp holds a Doctor of Education in higher education leadership and a Master of Education in secondary Spanish education from the University of South Alabama, and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish/international trade from Auburn University.

Headshot of Megan Bowers, Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences at CSU

Megan Bowers

Dean, College of Arts and Sciences and Assistant Provost

Megan Bowers began her career with Columbia Southern University in May 2012. She has served the university in a variety of roles including academic program director for general studies, academic discipline director for natural science and mathematics, mathematics faculty member, director of institutional research, Success Center training coordinator and Success Center specialist. Dean Bowers currently serves as dean for the College of Arts and Sciences and as the assistant provost for academic affairs. She has more than 12 years of experience in higher education curriculum development, online teaching practices, strategic planning and leadership.

Dean Bowers holds a Master of Science in mathematics from the University of West Florida.

Headshot of Freda Braddock CSU

Dr. Freda Braddock

Dean, College of Education and Assistant Provost

Freda Barnett-Braddock, Ed.D., has more than 20 years of academic experience in K-12 and higher education. She holds a State of Mississippi Class AAAA Educator License with various endorsements, including administrator. She earned a Bachelor of Science in education, Master of Science in educational administration, graduate hours in psychology, Ed.S. in curriculum and instruction, and Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction. Dr. Braddock joined Columbia Southern University in March 2010 working as an instructor, course writer, and program director. She serves on various committees and presents frequently to faculty and various audiences. Dr. Braddock is an active member of the community, a passionate motivator, and remains devoted to student success.

Headshot of Bonny Kehm CSU Leadership

Dr. Bonny Kehm

Dean, College of Nursing and Health Sciences and Assistant Provost

Bonny Kehm, Ph.D., currently serves as the assistant provost and founding dean of the College of Nursing and Health Science. Dr. Kehm has an extensive leadership career at the state, national, and international levels in faculty, nursing practice, and nursing education higher administration. She has dedicated her nursing and education careers to developing next-generation nursing leaders through innovative curriculum design and research. In 2017, she was appointed by the governor of Missouri, and confirmed by the full state Senate, to the Missouri State Board of Nursing. The board governs and regulates the profession of more than 150,000 licensed nurses in the state. She is the board’s former president and serves on the Nursing Education Committee, which regulates and oversees nursing education programs.

Dr. Kehm is an active, committed advocate for awareness of interprofessional education opportunities that link nursing, nutrition, pharmacy, criminal justice, and health sciences education. She holds multiple national and international honors and awards in nursing. A prominent member and educator in the industry, Dr. Kehm has presented at the International Council of Nurses Congress (Montreal, 2023), Royal College of Nursing (London, 2023), Royal College of Nursing Centennial International Conference (2016), and Nursing Educational Institute (New York, 2017). She was awarded Rising Nurse Leader from the Missouri Organization of Nurse Leaders (2016) and International Quality Research from The United States Distance Learning Association (2018). Dr. Kehm earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Webster University, her doctorate in nursing education from Capella University, and her postgraduate certificate in Health Care Informatics from Excelsior University. Dr. Kehm holds a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) certification granted through the National League of Nursing.

Headshot of Tamara Mouras CSU Leadership

Dr. Tamara Mouras

Dean, College of Safety and Emergency Services and Assistant Provost

Tamara Mouras, Ph.D., has served in several academic roles since joining Columbia Southern University in 2012. Prior to her current role as the dean of the College of Safety and Emergency Services, she held the positions of associate dean for the College of Safety and Emergency Services and academic program director of criminal justice and homeland security programs.

Dr. Mouras is a U.S. Navy veteran and values the spirit of military services. Her teaching background expands more than 15 years of higher education instruction in homeland security, strategic security and protection management, criminal justice, public safety leadership, intelligence, and human services. Dr. Mouras’ academic research background includes: domestic terrorism, violent extremism, radicalization process and counter-terrorism methods.

Dr. Mouras served on numerous dissertations committees as chair and qualitative methodology research expert, as well as Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviewer. Dr. Mouras earned her B.S. in criminal justice with a minor in child welfare and communication from Old Dominion University and holds an M.S. in human services in criminal justice from Capella University. She holds a Ph.D. in public service leadership with a specialization in criminal justice from Capella University.

A headshot of Mike Perry, Dean, College of Military Studies and Leadership

Dr. Nathaniel "Mike" Perry Jr.

Dean, College of Military Studies and Leadership and Assistant Provost

Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) Mike Perry joined Columbia Southern University in August 2023, serving as the dean of the College of Military Studies and Leadership. In this role, he provides leadership in the preparation, development, and direction of academic policy and programs for the college and the University. Capitalizing on his more than 31 years of service within the U.S. Department of Defense, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the role.

Before joining Columbia Southern University, Perry served at the highest levels of the United States Air Force as the Air Force first sergeant special duty manager where he was responsible for the overall policy, guidance, training and development of more than 2,900 personnel supporting missions around the world. He served as the trusted advisor to the 19th chief master sergeant of the Air Force supporting more than 485,000 service members and their families. Perry’s military career included various assignments leading teams in operations, logistics, health care and human resources. He has deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan and other overseas contingency operations.

Perry earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Wayland Baptist University and a master’s degree in organizational management with a concentration in human resources from the University of Arizona Global Campus. Perry holds a Doctor of Strategic Leadership degree with a strategic foresight concentration from Regent University.

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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