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Ashford University Board of Trustees

Dr. Gregory L. Geoffroy, Chairperson

Dr. Gregory L. Geoffroy brings more than 30 years of experience in higher education to the Ashford University Board of Trustees. Currently, he is President Emeritus at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, where he spent the previous ten years as the institution's President. From 1997 to 2001, Dr. Geoffroy served as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. He was at Pennsylvania State University from 1974 to 1997, where he held a variety of leadership positions, including Dean of the Eberly College of Science and Head of the Chemistry department. Dr. Geoffroy currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Bankers Trust Corporation and is a Grand Council Member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He earned a PhD in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology and a BS in Chemistry from the University of Louisville.

Ms. Mary Jo Maydew, Vice Chairperson

For more than 30 years, Mary Jo Maydew has been providing financial guidance to colleges and universities. From 2000 to 2011, she was the Vice President for Finance and Administration at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts where she had previously been Treasurer since 1987. Prior to that, Ms. Maydew held the positions of Assistant Treasurer and Assistant to the University Controller at Cornell University. Currently, Ms. Maydew serves on the Board of Directors for the Center Redevelopment Corporation and the Investment Committee for The Loomis Communities. In addition, she recently completed a seven-year term as a Commissioner on the New England Association for Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. She has served on the Board of Directors for several educational organizations, including the Tuition Plan Consortium, the National Association of College and University Business Officers, and the Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers. Ms. Maydew earned her MBA from Cornell University and her BS in Accounting from the University of Denver.

Lt. Col. Paul Aguirre

Lt. Col. Paul Aguirre is the Logistics Readiness Squadron Commander for the 161st Air Refueling Wing (ARW) of the Arizona National Guard. He has served more than 25 years in the military, deploying to Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012, where he worked in the Chief of Staff's office at the NATO Headquarters in Kandahar, Afghanistan. His diverse management experience includes serving as the Public Affairs Officer for the Arizona National Guard, where he represented the over 8,000 members of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to media and community groups. He also has an extensive financial management background that includes 12 years as the Comptroller for the 161st ARW, managing an annual budget exceeding 40 million dollars, and Resource Manager for the Joint Counter Narcotics Task Force, a joint Army and Air Guard program supporting local, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the National Guard Association of Arizona. A strong advocate for adult education, Lt. Col. Aguirre earned his BA from the University of Phoenix while on active duty with the Arizona National Guard.

Dr./Sister Ruth Cox, OSF

Sister Ruth Cox is a member of the Sisters of St. Francis in Clinton, Iowa. Sister Ruth is also currently a Fellow and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Nursing for The Center of Nursing Classification and Clinical Effectiveness at the College of Nursing at the University of Iowa. Prior to her role at the University of Iowa, Sister Ruth was an Adjunct Faculty member at Kirkwood Community College, President and CEO of The Alverno Health Care Facility, and Assistant Professor of Nursing at Loyola University of Chicago and Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. She has served professionally in many roles, including the Leadership Council of the Sisters of St. Francis, the research team for Nursing Outcomes, and the Iowa Advisory Board for the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care. Sister Ruth has delivered numerous papers and presentations on the topic of nursing. She holds a PhD in Education from the University of Iowa, and earned her MA, MSN, and BS from Loyola University of Chicago.

Dr. Leila González Sullivan

Dr. Leila González Sullivan is an adjunct faculty member and faculty facilitator for the New York Student Cluster in the School of Education Leadership for Change of the Fielding Graduate University. In 2009, she retired from her full-time position as the W. Dallas Herring Professor of Community College Education in the Department of Adult and Higher Education at North Carolina State University. In 2001, Dr. González Sullivan also served as the Interim Director for Community College Relations at The College Board. Prior to that, she has held community college presidencies in the states of Connecticut and Maryland. Dr. González Sullivan has been involved in the community college movement at the national, regional, and local levels for many years. She has served on the board of directors of the American Association for Community Colleges twice, was the national president of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC), and was the Executive Director of the National Community College Hispanic Council’s Leadership Fellows Program. She served 12 years as a member of the board of trustees for the American University of Rome and presently chairs the Community Coalition on Race in Maplewood, NJ. Dr. González Sullivan holds her EdD in Vocational Education and EdS in Adult Education from the University of Arkansas. She holds her MA in Spanish Literature from New York University and earned her BA from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. Her research interests focus on the effects of leadership training, an area in which she has published numerous articles and book chapters.

Dr. Merle W. Harris

Dr. Merle W. Harris brings 45 years of educational experience to the Ashford Board of Trustees. She has served in a variety of roles at institutions of higher education, high schools, grade schools and the Connecticut Department of Higher Education. Most recently, she served as Professor of Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in Public Policy and Higher Education Policy, Law and Foundations at Charter Oak State College and the University of Hartford in Connecticut. Dr. Harris also works as a consultant in planning, policy development and accreditation in education and higher education. From 1989 to 2008, Dr. Merle served as Executive Director of the Board for State Academic Awards and President of Charter Oak State College. She also served as Interim President of Central Connecticut State University and as Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Research Planning for the Connecticut Department of Higher Education. Dr. Merle currently sits on the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Connecticut Allied Health Policy Board. She earned her EdD in Education Policy, Research and Administration from the University of Massachusetts, and her MS in Guidance and Counseling and BS in Education from Central Connecticut State College.

Dr. Albert K. Karnig

Dr. Albert Karnig was President of California State University, San Bernardino from 1997 to 2012. During his tenure, he helped the University achieve major milestones in enrollment, diversity of faculty and students, grant and contract funding, fundraising, and international program development. Previously, Dr. Karnig served as Provost at the University of Wyoming and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Arizona State University. He also directed Arizona State's School of Public Affairs, which at the time was ranked among the nation's ten leading public policy and administration programs. Dr. Karnig currently sits on the Board of Directors for the California University of Science and Medicine, the California Council on Economic Education, the San Bernardino County Alliance for Education, and the KVCR Public Radio and Television Education Foundation, Inc. Dr. Karnig earned his Bachelor’s degree from Augustana College and his Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Political Science from University of Illinois. While at the University of Illinois, Dr. Karnig became a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, an N.D.E.A. Fellow, and a Kendric Babcock Fellow.

Dr. Carol Kasworm

Dr. Carol Kasworm has nearly four decades of experience studying adult learners and is considered a leading authority on adult undergraduate students in higher education. She is the W. Dallas Herring Emerita Professor of Adult and Community College Education in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Adult and Higher Education at North Carolina State University. Her research interests have focused upon the adult undergraduate experience, including the nature of learning engagement and participation patterns of adult students, the situated influences of varied higher education contexts on adult learners, and the role of adult higher education in a lifelong learning society. Dr. Kasworm has held faculty appointments at University of Texas – Austin, University of Tennessee –Knoxville, University of Houston – Clear Lake and University of South Florida. She has also served as Associate Dean of Research and Technology in the College of Education at University of Tennessee – Knoxville and Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty and Program Development at University of Houston – Clear Lake. In 2002, Dr. Kasworm was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame. She received her BA in Psychology and Sociology from Valparaiso University, her MA in Higher Education Administration from Michigan State University and her EdD in Adult Education from the University of Georgia.

Dr. Paula Kelly

Dr. Paula Kelly has more than 20 years experience in higher education extended studies leadership and served as the Dean of the College of Extended Studies at San Diego State University. She was responsible for building strategic alliances with external partners including corporations, other universities, ministries and governmental agencies. She has a background in entrepreneurial self-support education and international business, and traveled to more than 30 countries in Asia, Europe, South America, and the Middle East to market and develop College of Extended Studies international training and development programs for SDSU. Dr. Kelly has served on several Boards of Directors including the University Continuing Education Association (UCEA), World Trade Center, Asian Business Association, and St. Vincent de Paul Village. She earned her doctorate in Education Leadership and Masters in Business Administration from the University of San Diego. She served as the Development Director for USD, Vice President of Development for Monarch School, and she is currently the Director of Development for International Relief Teams. Dr. Kelly has expertise in board development and corporate, foundation, major gift and capital campaign fundraising.

Dr. Meredyth A. Leahy

Dr. Meredyth A. Leahy has over 30 years experience working with adult educators and adult learners in basic literacy, secondary, continuing and higher education, in both public sector and military education venues, including Temple University and the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Cabrini College, Muhlenberg College, and Excelsior. From 1994 to 2008 she served as Dean, School of Liberal Arts, Excelsior College, Albany, New York. Since her retirement, she has served as distance education adjunct faculty for Excelsior College teaching an undergraduate course on the history and philosophy of American education, and North Carolina State University where she taught a graduate course on the adult learner. She recently joined the American Council on Education's Military Installation Voluntary Education Review (MIVER) as a program review team member. Dr. Leahy earned her Bachelor's degree from Edinboro State Teachers College and her Master's and Doctorate degrees in adult education from Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Craig W. Linebaugh

Dr. Craig W. Linebaugh brings a wealth of experience in higher education to the Ashford Board of Trustees. He has spent more than 35 years at The George Washington University serving in a variety of leadership roles, including Senior Associate Provost of Academic Operations, Associate Vice President for Academic Planning, and Chief Academic Operating Officer of the Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn, Virginia. Currently, he is a Professor of Speech and Hearing Science and a Research Professor of Medicine at The George Washington University. Dr. Linebaugh sits on the Board of Trustees Committee on a Science and Engineering Complex. He earned his post-doctoral fellow in Speech-Language Pathology from the Mayo Clinic, his PhD in Speech and Hearing Science and MA in Speech-Language Pathology from Temple University, and a BA in English Literature from Lebanon Valley College.

Dr. Geri Hockfield Malandra

Dr. Geri H. Malandra is the founder and principal of Malandra Consulting LLC, a firm created to assist higher education leaders with the development and implementation of outcomes-focused management, accountability, and policy initiatives. From 2012-2013, she served as Senior Advisor to the President of Kaplan University, after serving the previous two years as Provost. Prior positions include her role as the Senior Vice President for Leadership, Membership, and Policy Research at the American Council on Education, and as Vice Chancellor for Strategic Management for the University of Texas System. Dr. Malandra also served as Associate Vice Provost at the University of Minnesota, where she spent more than 16 years working in various leadership capacities. Her public service includes an appointment by former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to serve as a member and Vice Chair of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. Dr. Malandra holds her MA and PhD in Ancient Studies from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She earned her BA from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Dr. Peter Negroni

Dr. Peter Negroni is currently a Senior Advisor and consultant to EMC Publishing and the College Board. A career educator with more than 50 years of experience in education, Dr. Negroni spent 30 years in the New York City Public Schools, starting as a teacher and ending with 10 years as a school superintendent in the Borough of the Bronx. During his career, Dr. Negroni acted as the Executive Director of an educational foundation in Catawba County, North Carolina, where he led an effort to reform the school districts in that county. In 1989, he was appointed Superintendent in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he earned a national reputation as a transformational leader and was awarded the recognition of Superintendent of the Year. In 2000, Dr. Negroni returned to New York City to assume the position of Senior Vice President at the College Board, where he spent 13 years leading major efforts in the K-12 and International Divisions before retiring in August 2013. Dr. Negroni holds a doctorate from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey and a bachelor’s degree from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York.

Ms. Cheryl Ann Oldham

Cheryl Ann Oldham is Vice President of Education Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Her 20 years of experience in public policy, education, and government relations includes eight years of service in President George W. Bush’s administration. Most recently, she served in a variety of roles with the U.S. Department of Education, including Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education, Chief of Staff for the Office of the Under Secretary of Education, and Executive Director for the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education. Oldham began her career serving as Health and Human Services Policy Director for the Texas Office of State-Federal relations in Washington, D.C. She also currently serves on the National Workforce Solutions Advisory Board. Oldham earned her JD from St. Mary University’s School of Law and her BA in Political Science from Texas Christian University.

Dr. Karen Paulson

Dr. Karen Paulson is a Senior Associate at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS). Her areas of expertise include assessment, evaluation, accreditation, and the use of data in state policymaking; she has worked at over 40 postsecondary institutions and in 30 states. She conducts evaluations for institutions and consortia with externally funded projects including the State Scholars Initiative, Title III, Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) Comprehensive, and Learning Anytime Anyplace Partnership grants. She is the author of "Developing Public Agendas for Higher Education: Lessons for Comparative State Higher Education Policy," in State Postsecondary Education Research: New Methods to Inform Policy and Practice, edited by K. M. Shaw and D. E. Heller in 2007, "Adult Learners in the United States: A National Profile" (co-authored with Marianne Boeke for the American Council on Education, 2006), and "A Data Audit and Analysis Toolkit to Support Assessment of the First College Year" (2003). She holds engineering degrees in addition to her higher education study. Her Ph.D. is in Higher Education with a minor in Policy Analysis from The Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Craig Swenson

Dr. Craig Swenson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Ashford University. With more than 40 years of experience in higher education, Dr. Swenson is a recognized national leader in higher education. In 2015, Dr. Swenson served as Interim President of University of the Rockies. Prior to that, he served as Chancellor Emeritus and was a Professor of Higher Education Administration at Argosy University. He also served as Chancellor of the Argosy System for seven years and held the position of Chief Academic Officer for Education Management Corporation for several years. Before his tenure at Argosy University, Dr. Swenson was Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Western Governors University. Prior to that, he served as Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs over the University of Phoenix system. At University of Phoenix, he was a Senior Regional Vice President and a Vice President/Campus Director. Dr. Swenson is on the Board of Directors of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and he serves on the Advisory Board for the CHEA International Quality Initiative. He is active as a peer reviewer and accreditation team chair for the Commission on Senior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Dr. Swenson has been a member of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), advising the U.S. Secretary of Education on matters related to accreditation and the eligibility and certification process for institutions of higher education. In addition, he has served on the Jacob K. Javits Program Fellowship Board at the U.S. Department of Education. He was a non-federal negotiator for the U.S. Department of Education Negotiated Rulemaking process in 2007. Additionally, he was a member of the U.S. Army Educational Advisory Committee, advising the Secretary of the Army on education and training matters. Dr. Swenson earned a PhD in Education with an emphasis in Adult and Organizational Learning at Walden University, a master’s degree in Organizational Communication from Brigham Young University, and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Utah.