As the Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Southern Education Group, the parent company of Columbia Southern University (CSU) and Waldorf University, Robert Mayes provides strategy and leadership support to the institutions and is responsible for governmental affairs. Mr. Mayes has more than 25 years of experience in distance education. Mayes co-founded Columbia Southern University, an online university headquartered in Orange Beach, Alabama, along with his parents and sister, Chantell Mayes Cooley, in 1993. He transitioned to the role of president of CSU in 2005 and served until May 2018. In his role as president of CSU, Mayes worked closely with leadership to accomplish the goals, objectives and strategies of the university. During this time, the University grew from 7,000 students to 30,000. He was awarded the title president emeritus on May 1, 2018 for his contributions and impact on the University. Mayes also led the acquisition of Waldorf University (previously Waldorf College) in Forest City, Iowa in 2010, a task that included achieving approvals from the U.S. Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission. During his time at CSU, Mayes had direct experience in many areas of online university operations including key roles in accounting, finance, information technology, online course design, outcomes assessment, the development of policies and procedures, accreditation and more. He is chairman of the board of directors for South Baldwin Christian Academy. He serves as a board member of the Board of Certified Safety Professionals Foundation and a board member of the Business Council of Alabama. He served eight years on the board of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission board of directors and served on its executive, finance and nominating committees. In 2017, Mayes was awarded the Distance Education Accrediting Commission’s Distinguished Service Award and was a Boy Scouts of America Golden Eagle Honoree. In 2019, he was named the Distance Education Accrediting Commission’s Person of the Year.
Mrs. Mayes is a co-founder of Columbia Southern University (CSU) and serves in an executive advisory capacity at Columbia Southern Education Group. Mrs. Mayes has also been with CSU since its founding, is on the Board of Directors, and follows strict ethical standards. Before CSU, Minnie co-founded a safety consulting company that provided training and services to small businesses nationwide. Mrs. Mayes has much knowledge about CSU through her long tenure as a board member and numerous work and advisory experiences in all aspects of distance study for more than 20 years.
Dawn Cranston has spent over 25 years as an educator. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education with an emphasis on elementary and early childhood education from Indiana University. She earned her Master’s of Education degree studying Educational Leadership at Concordia University. She has two daughters, one who currently attends South Baldwin Christian Academy (SBCA) and another who graduated from SBCA in 2017. She has worked in both the public and private sectors of education.
A Mobile, AL., native, Mr. Troup 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, Mr. Troup 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. Mr. Troup began his career as an auditor with Deloitte & Touché 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. Mr. Troup is also a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Alabama Society of CPAs.