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Dr. Mayes sitting at desk


Columbia Southern University was founded by Dr. Robert Mayes, Sr. From the very beginning, CSU's focus was environmental compliance and occupational safety training.

CSU's first graduating class


The very first graduating class included 7 students.

I always felt that CSU's history was there to prepare people beyond just an education.

Joel Yager, Class of '94

Illustration of a certificate and the word NEW inside a gold star burst


Launched new programs beyond environmental and occupational safety including business administration, computer science, criminal justice administration and health care administration.

Welcome DECT Examining Committee text on CSU's signage board


Achieving accreditation had been a university goal since its inception, and that goal became a reality on Jan. 15, 2001, when the Distance Education and Training Council granted institutional accreditation to CSU.

CSU's first graduating class


Graduates celebrating together during CSU's first commencement ceremony.

The university achieved the first of many articulation agreements with partner institutions, as well as received Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) and Veterans Affairs approval.

Illustrated world map with dotted line from Alabama to Vietnam


CSU expanded its international offerings by being one of the first U.S. universities to offer a degree program in Vietnam. The opportunity to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree was offered to students in Vietnam with student support centers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.


Between 2002 and 2004, CSU expanded its degree offerings to include associate degrees, six new bachelor’s degrees and launched the Learning Partnership program, providing opportunities for partner members and their families to receive benefits such as tuition discounts, application fee waivers and scholarship opportunities.

Robert and Tina Mayes


Robert Mayes, Jr., transitioned into the role of president after the passing of his father and CSU founder Robert Mayes, Sr.


CSU continued to grow and was reaccredited by the Distance Education and Training Council. CSU was also honored by being selected among the first group of colleges and universities to be accepted into the Air Force Academic Institution Portal, and into the U.S. Army’s Centralized Tuition Assistance Management (CTAM) program, ArmyIgnitED (formerly GoArmyEd).

Construction site of the CSU building


CSU received approval by the U.S. Department of Education to offer Federal Student Aid. In the same year, CSU broke ground on its Orange Beach campus, which opened in 2009.


CSU’s MBA program became the first distance learning program to be accredited by the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training.

Screenshot of the Communicator website home page


The corporate structure of the organization was changed to introduce Columbia Southern Education Group (CSEG). In the same year, the Communicator, CSU's official student and alumni newsletter, launches.

Facebook thumbs up and hearts to illustrate the follower milestone


CSU reaches 10,000 Facebook followers.


CSU was named one of the Best Companies to Work for in Alabama by Business Alabama magazine.

Action shot of Sir Maximus with sword and shield


Sir Maximus introduced as the university mascot. The first edition of the CSU Alumni Magazine was published.

Chief of Staff Ken Styron at podium giving a speech


In May 2018, CSU’s President Robert Mayes, Jr., made the decision to focus on his role as chief executive officer of Columbia Southern Education Group, making way for Chief of Staff Ken Styron to transition into the role of president.



CSU was granted institutional accreditation by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Through achieving this accreditation, CSU became one of the most affordable, completely online, SACSCOC accredited universities in the U.S.

CSU Building


CSU celebrated its 30th anniversary as well as boasted more than 100,000 degree conferrals since its founding in 1993.

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