Monday, March 30, 2009

Oklahoma's Largest Fire Department Partners with Online University

Oklahoma’s largest fire and rescue department, Oklahoma City Fire Department, protects the more than half a million residents of the state’s capital. Through a recent partnership with Columbia Southern University (CSU), Oklahoma City Fire Department employees are now eligible for special educational benefits. An application fee waiver and 10 percent tuition discount are now available to over 1,000 Oklahoma City Fire Department personnel, along with their spouses and children.

“Because we have such a large number of employees, it’s great to reach out to everyone in the department by offering these benefits,” said Major Bryce Brent of the Oklahoma City Fire Department. “We hope that our staff will begin or further their education with CSU.”

The Oklahoma City Fire Department covers 621 square miles with 44 worksites, including 35 fire stations. More than 100 employees are trained in technical rescue and operate as members of a statewide Urban Search and Rescue Team. Each year the department responds to more than 73,000 incidents including structure fires, medical emergencies, grass fires, automobile accidents, and other emergencies.

“Some of the largest fire departments in the U.S. are on the growing list of CSU partner organizations,” said CSU President Robert Mayes. “Our university is committed to helping firefighters fit an education into their unpredictable schedules.”

More than 640 organizations across the U.S. are CSU partners – half of which are fire service organizations. Some of the largest partners include the Fire Department of New York, Chicago Fire Department, National Volunteer Fire Council, and the Hawaii Firefighters Association.

For a complete list of CSU partners, please visit or call 1-800-344-5021.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Competition Heats Up for Fire Service Jobs

The competition for jobs in fire departments across the U.S. is heating up. Although a degree has not traditionally been essential for firefighters, the demand for more educated applicants is increasing. Firefighters are now competing for positions with candidates who hold associate and bachelor’s degrees.

Columbia Southern University (CSU), one of the nation’s first online universities based in Orange Beach, Alabama recently partnered with the Pensacola Fire Department to help local firefighters gain an edge over the competition. This partnership provides these firefighters, their spouses, and children with special benefits including tuition discounts and an application fee waiver. The fire department will also be featured on the CSU website, in marketing materials, and at conferences and speaking engagements.

Pensacola Fire Department employees can choose from 20 completely online degree programs offered by CSU. Associate, bachelor, and certificate programs in fire science are available. Other degree programs include business administration, information technology, public administration, and more.

“This partnership with CSU will allow us to be more involved in helping our firefighters achieve an education,” said Brock Jester, Fire Captain and Training Officer for the Pensacola Fire Department. “With competition heating up, it is becoming more important for firefighters to have degrees backing their experience.”

The Pensacola Fire Department provides fire suppression, emergency medical services, fire code enforcement, and public education programs to the 60,000 citizens of Pensacola, Florida. Over 130 Pensacola Fire Department employees operate in six fire stations through six engine companies, two ladder companies, three rescue companies and two aircraft rescue firefighting units. The department is also one of the regionally certified training centers in Northwest Florida.

“The number of fire science students enrolled in CSU has nearly doubled since 2007,” said Robert Mayes, President of CSU. “With education comes greater career opportunities – this is also true within the fire service industry.”

CSU holds more than 20 Florida fire department partnerships and roughly 215 around the world. Tampa Fire and Rescue, Destin Fire Control District, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, and Tallahassee Fire Department are just a few of the Florida fire departments on the growing list of CSU partners.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Columbia Southern University to Celebrate New Home

On January 16th Columbia Southern University (CSU) employees, public officials, and local business leaders will celebrate the grand opening of the school’s new 67,000 square foot Orange Beach home. The event begins at 9 a.m. with remarks from CSU President Robert Mayes, City of Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon, Alabama Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce President Mark Berson, and South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce President Donna Watts. Tours and refreshments will also be offered.

Construction began in December 2007 on a 20 acre plot of land purchased in Orange Beach, Alabama. The additional acreage provides future expansion opportunities without forcing CSU to relocate. CSU will occupy the first two floors by January 2009 and once the third floor is completed, 360 work stations and 65 offices will be available. The facility features a training room, conference rooms, break rooms, fitness center, balconies, shipping and mailing area with a loading dock, and more.

“This new facility demonstrates our commitment to quality student service,” said CSU President Robert Mayes. “As we continue to grow, additional staff and faculty support are essential for ensuring student success.”

With a record enrollment of more than 16,000 students and at least 25,000 expected by 2010, CSU quickly outgrew its previous 17,000 square foot building. This year, CSU surpassed more than 200 employees forcing in-house faculty and staff to occupy additional facilities in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. The new building will be large enough to house all CSU departments with further room for growth.

White-Spunner Construction President Mike Fitzgerald, Congressman Jo Bonner’s District Representative Bryan Parker, Liberty Church Pastor Buford Lipscomb and representatives from both the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and Alabama Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce are scheduled to attend.

Constructed by White-Spunner Construction, Inc., the new building is located two miles south of County Road 12, just off the Foley Beach Express and north of The Columns at Orange Beach Apartments. The grand opening celebration is open to the public. For more information or to view the new construction photo gallery, please call 1-800-977-8449 or visit

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Online University Holds Graduation at World's Second Largest Air and Space Museum

On October 10th, 2008 more than 700 graduates and guests from around the globe traveled to Pensacola, Florida to march across the stage of the second largest air and space museum in the world. The annual Columbia Southern University (CSU) commencement ceremony was held Friday at the National Museum of Naval Aviation.

Graduates represented countries as far as Kenya, Egypt, and Canada and cities as close as Pensacola, Navarre and Orange Beach. The largest number of graduates, 34, came from Vietnam.

“Our graduates - entrepreneurs, firefighters, law enforcement, Military Servicemembers and business professionals - have traveled from across the globe to participate in this milestone event, said Robert Mayes, CSU President. “Twenty seven U.S. states and four countries are represented.”

The ceremony was held in the 10,000 square foot museum atrium with a quartet of McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk jets suspended above in their famous diamond formation. This 300,000 square foot museum of steel and glass attracts approximately one million visitors a year and features more than 150 aircraft.

Vice Admiral Gerald L. Hoewing served as keynote speaker for the event. A graduate of Iowa State University, his professional background includes positions with the Bureau of Naval Personnel and Office of Secretary of Defense. During his sterling military career, Vice Admiral Hoewing has done everything from flying the A-7E Corsair II light attack aircraft on multiple deployments to the Western Pacific on USS Constellation (CV-64) and USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) to his final active duty assignment as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations/Chief of Naval Personnel.

CSU, one of the nation’s first completely online universities, was developed to provide working adults with an alternative to the traditional university experience. With a record enrollment of over 15,000 students, this local university based in Orange Beach, Alabama is among the most rapidly growing universities in the U.S. By the end of 2008, a new 67,000 square foot facility will be constructed to accommodate the additional staff needed to continue providing prospective and current students with the quality service this university maintains as its hallmark.

In 2007, CSU was recognized as one of the top 30 schools for military education by Military Advanced Education. Over 100 institutions applied for the award and CSU ranked in the top 30. Schools selected are considered the best of the best in military education based on the number of military students enrolled, number of military contracts, and amount of accessible financial aid and scholarships for members of the military.

Online associate, bachelor, master, doctoral and certificate programs are available in a variety of fields including fire science, criminal justice, business administration, information technology, human resource management, occupational safety and health and more.

Firefighters of Alabama's Largest City Receive Educational Incentive

The largest fire and rescue department in Alabama, Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service protects the more than 230,000 citizens of Birmingham, the most populated city in the state. A recent partnership with Columbia Southern University (CSU), one of the nation’s first completely online universities, now offers Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service employees discounted tuition rates and other special educational benefits.

Seven hundred Birmingham firefighters and rescue personnel, along with their spouses and children, will receive a 10 percent tuition discount and application fee waiver as a result of this partnership. CSU offers completely online associate, bachelor, master, doctoral, and certificate programs in a variety of fields including fire science, business administration, information technology, and health care administration.

“Firefighters and emergency services personnel in a large city like Birmingham don’t have much time to think about earning a degree,” said Ivor Brooks, Assistant Chief of the Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service. “The online programs offered at CSU allow our firefighters to study and complete courses according to their schedules.”

The Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service has been serving the city of Birmingham since 1872. It is devoted to providing speedy and dependable emergency services to all Birmingham citizens, protecting lives and property. In 2002, the Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service kicked off “Get Alarmed Birmingham,” a campaign to educate the people of Birmingham on the importance of working smoke detectors. The department has distributed more than 17,000 smoke detectors and credits this program for the drastic drop in the number of fire-related causalities.

“At CSU, our way of giving back to the individuals who keep our country safe is through offering educational benefits,” said Chantell Cooley, Vice President of Partnership Development. “Fire departments, police departments, and emergency services departments are just a few of the types of organizations that benefit most from the partnerships we build.”

CSU also holds learning partnerships with more than 400 organizations across the U.S. including Delta Air Lines, National Sheriffs’ Association, Commtest, and Quantum Drilling. Over half are with fire departments and include the New York City Fire Department, Tulsa Fire Department, Chicago Fire Department, and Tampa Fire and Rescue.

Vietnam Education Award Presented to CSU President and Vice President

The Central Committee of the Vietnam Association for Promoting Education (VAPE) recently awarded CSU President, Robert Mayes, and CSU Executive Vice President, Dr. Joe Manjone, with the Medal for Achievement in Promoting Education. They received this prestigious award based on their contributions to developing an international education program in Vietnam.

“This award symbolizes our commitment to providing quality educational programs in Vietnam,” said Robert Mayes. “We are honored to serve the more than 600 Vietnamese students currently enrolled in CSU degree programs through our affiliate, the Center for International Training Cooperation.”

The chairman of VAPE, Nguyen Manh Cam, presented Dr. Joe Manjone with this award in Ho Chi Minh City on September 29th. Most CSU Vietnam graduates have gone on to hold corporate leadership roles or now work for the Vietnamese government. Several of them have obtained positions in the U.S.

Please visit to learn more about this university’s commitment to international education.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

World Wide Web Becomes Growing Educational Resource for Firefighters

ORANGE BEACH, AL – The popularity of online education is reaching more than just business professionals – firefighters, police officers, and construction workers are all earning their degree through the World Wide Web. Columbia Southern University (CSU), one of the nation’s first completely online universities, currently holds more than 120 fire organization partnerships across the U.S. The Nevada Fire Chiefs Association (NFCA) is the most recent addition to this list giving members a tuition discount and application fee waiver.

“Our partnership with CSU will offer our members a very special benefit – easier access to an education,” said Al Gillespie, NFCA President. “Their spouses and children will even be able to earn their degree at a cost much more competitive than what is offered at a majority of other universities.”

The mission of the NFCA is to promote and support the fire service of Nevada. The association provides training in fire prevention, fire extinguishing, leadership, and emergency medical services.

“Out of the 200 organizations CSU is partnered with, 120 of them are fire related,” said Chantell Cooley, CSU Vice President of Partnership Development. “CSU currently has more than 1,600 active fire science students and with the popularity of the fire partnerships that number is expected to continue its growth pattern.”

The New York Fire Department, Chicago Fire Department, Bermuda Fire Service, and Sierra Fire Protection District have also joined CSU as partners.

For more information or to learn how your fire organization can become a CSU partner, please visit or call 1-800-344-5021.