October 4, 2023

Gearing Up for Graduation Festivities

Dear Students and Alumni,

On the Gulf Coast we are beginning to enjoy the cooler temperatures that come with the fall season and we are finalizing preparations for the 2014 CSU Commencement Ceremonies.

We are so thrilled to have more than 700 graduates and approximately 3,000 family and friends attending this year. The faculty, staff and I are looking forward to meeting many of you and your families and friends at the Open House and graduation.

The Open House will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 23 at the CSU main campus. We will offer tours of our facilities; light refreshments and graduates can meet professors and staff members. Several departments will have booths set up to answer questions and offer career services.

Also on Oct. 23, graduates and their guests can attend a beach reception from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Gulf State Park Pavilion for fellowship and networking. Appetizers and light refreshments will be served.

On Oct. 24, the main events: morning and afternoon graduation ceremonies! We are expecting graduates from all over the world to attend these momentous events which will be streamed live.

One graduate coming will be Gary Shaun Watkins, a training officer for the Seneca Fire Department in South Carolina, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fire administration. He said he is coming mainly because of his wife and three children. “They saw me doing the homework part, so they want to see the cap and gown part,” he said with laugh. He added that his experience with CSU and online education was enjoyable.

Another graduating student, Wisconsin safety manager Kristy Goetsch, liked the array of subjects she studied while obtaining her master’s degree in OSH/environmental management. “Overall it was easy to navigate and easy to fit the coursework into my busy schedule,” she said. Goetsch, who is bringing her parents, is also very pumped to “see my school for the first time!”

Joining these graduates and their families will be adjunct faculty from various states, members of the CSU Board of Trustees, and many CSU staff assisting with the ceremonies. Graduates will receive opening remarks from Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon, Alabama Senator Tripp Pittman, and our U.S. congressman, Representative Bradley Byrne. Our keynote speaker will be Oliver North, a combat decorated U.S. Marine, a No. 1 best-selling author, the founder of a small business, an inventor with three U.S. patents, a syndicated columnist, and the host of “War Stories” on Fox News Channel.

To all the graduates, whether you’re attending the ceremony or not, we are honored that you have chosen CSU to guide you in your quest for educational success.

I am proud to share news about CSU’s recent success in obtaining approval to offer three new degree programs! These programs include:

  • Associate of Science in Health Information Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medical Services Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security

Interested applicants may apply for these programs now.  Existing students who are interested in these programs may submit a change of program request and the fee will be waived. A special thanks to all those involved in developing these new programs and aiding in their approval by the DETC.

This month is also National Fire Prevention Month. We have created an informative public service announcement on this year’s theme, smoke alarm safety. In addition, CSU executive and veteran fire officer Billy Hayes has penned a helpful article on fire and smoke alarm safety.

Speaking of fire safety, the CSU Continuing Education Department is partnering with the Student, Alumni and Engagement Department to offer a workshop, “Career Advancement: Fire Service Professionals,” on Nov. 5-6 in Tucker, Ga. This workshop targets individuals in the fire industry who are interested in advancing their careers and possibly receiving a promotion into a supervisory role. You can learn more about it here.

The Continuing Education Department is also offering a seminar/webinar on “Handling Difficult Conversations” on Nov. 12 at the CSU Center for Continuing Education in Orange Beach. The event will be available online and feature training on resolving and understanding conflict.

Lastly, we recently celebrated being recognized as one of the “2014 Best Companies to Work for in Alabama.” A special luncheon was provided to staff and faculty last month to thank all for their exceptional service and support of CSU as we work to change lives. I am so proud to work with people dedicated to helping others reach their dreams through education.

We look forward to seeing you at graduation!

Robert Mayes,




One Comment

  1. Lewis Womack

    I will truly will miss graduation this year. I have enjoyed the last two years receiving my assoc. and Bach. degree. I am in the middle of my Master degree and hopefully be able to come each at CSU sometime next year.