Ashford University Board of Trustees
Dr. Gregory L. Geoffroy, Chair
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 10 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 serves on the board of directors of the Bankers Trust Corporation and Lloyd, Inc. 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 Chair
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 trustees and chairs the finance committee at Wilson College in Pennsylvania. She previously served on the board of trustees of New York Chiropractic College. In addition, she served a seven-year term as a commissioner on the New England Commission of Higher Education, serving as chair for the last two years of her term. 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.
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 30 years’ experience in higher education extended studies leadership and served as the dean of the College of Extended Studies at San Diego State University (SDSU). 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 (USD). 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. Peter Negroni
Dr. Peter Negroni is currently a senior advisor and consultant to Vibeffect, a startup company that works to improve student recruitment, retention, and graduation rates. 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.
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. 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 earlier on the board of trustees of Trinity University Washington (formerly Trinity College). In her community of Maplewood, New Jersey, she serves on the Community Coalition on Race. 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. 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.
Colonel Paul R. Aguirre
Colonel Paul R. Aguirre is the Counter Drug Task Force (CDTF) Coordinator for the Arizona National Guard. He is responsible for managing the program consisting of Army and Air National Guard members working in support of local Law Enforcement and Community Based Partners. He was born in Peoria, Arizona and was commissioned in June of 1997 through the Academy of Military Science. His previous assignments include Transportation Officer, 161st Logistics Squadron; Budget Officer and Comptroller for the 161st Air Refueling Wing; Public Affairs Officer, Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs; Chief of Staff, 161st Air Refueling Wing; and Commander, 161st Logistics Readiness Squadron. Col Aguirre also served seven years previously in the Counter Drug Task Force as the Resource Manager for the program.
Col Aguirre deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and has served in Germany, South Korea and South America.
His awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and the NATO Medal.
Colonel Aguirre completed a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. His military education includes the Air Force War College, Air Force Command and Staff College, Air Force Squadron Officers School, National Guard Bureau’s Commanders Course, Army Air Traffic Controller Course, Army Telecommunications Center Operator Course, Army National Guard Primary Leadership Development Course, Army Basic Training, Air Force Logistics Officer Course and the Department of Defense Information Public Affairs Officer Course.
Dr. Grey Edwards, Jr.
Dr. Grey Edwards, Jr., joined the Board of Trustees in January 2017. Dr. Edwards has more than 45 years’ service to the military and served as a practitioner of the U.S. Army adult education program. Formerly, Dr. Edwards served as Chief of the Army Continuing Education Services (ACES) Hub at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he directed the organization, development, synchronization and execution of ACES operations at five installations supporting over 50,000 soldiers. Prior to his role at ACES Hub, Dr. Edwards served as the Education Services Officer at Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he provided supervisory and managerial guidance, leadership, employee development, performance and workload management, as well as work process analysis and training to an assigned workforce. Dr. Edwards has also served as Supervisory Education Services Specialist and Pre-discharge Education Program Supervisor at Giessen Education Center, Guidance Counselor at Kirchgoens Educations Center, Regional Administrator for Central Texas College’s European Division in Hanau, Germany, and Teacher/Principal for the Virginia Beach School District.
Dr. Edwards holds an EdD in Adult Education from Nova University, a MS in Education Supervision from Longwood College, a BA in History, Religion and Education from Fredrick College, and a certificate in Advanced Graduate Study in Counseling and Human Services from Boston University. Dr. Edwards retired on August 1, 2017 from Fort Benning, Georgia as the Director of Education for the Army Bases in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. He will be dividing retirement time between Bonita Springs, Florida and Holly Hill, South Carolina.
Dr. Meredyth Leahy
Dr. Meredyth Leahy has more than 40 years’ experience working with students and educators in basic literacy, secondary, higher education, and adult continuing education, spanning public and private sectors, as well as military education venues, and including Temple University, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Cabrini College, Muhlenberg College, and Excelsior College. From 1994 to 2008, she served as dean for the School of Liberal Arts at Excelsior College in 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 served with 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.
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 in 1995-96 and as Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Higher Education and as Associate Commissioner of the Division of Research Planning for the Connecticut Department of Higher Education. Dr. Harris currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Regents for Higher Education and Chairs its Academic and Student Affairs Committee. She has served on a number of other not for profit Boards. 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. Geri Malandra
Dr. Geri Malandra, now retired, was most recently 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 focusing on academic affairs, accreditation, accountability, and faculty and research development. 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.
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 serves on the Institute for Higher Education Policy’s board of directors as well as the advisory board for the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and on the Postsecondary Value Commission. Oldham earned her JD from St. Mary University’s School of Law and her BA in Political Science from Texas Christian University.
Dr. Donald M. Bird
Dr. Donald M. Bird is Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and former Head of the Department of Chemistry, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado. Dr. Bird served as a civilian faculty member from December 1993, when he retired from active duty as a Lieutenant Colonel, until June 2014 when he retired from Civil Service. During his assignments at the Academy, Dr. Bird taught courses in organic chemistry, biochemistry, polymer chemistry, and general chemistry. While on active duty, Dr. Bird served as an aircrew navigator, instructor navigator, standardization/evaluation navigator, Post Attack Command and Control System Operations Planner, and as an Emergency War Order Planner in support of KC- and EC-135 operations at Grissom AFB, McConnell AFB, and with the Wisconsin Air National Guard at General Billy Mitchell Field in Milwaukee, WI.
Dr. Bird was commissioned through Officer Training School in October 1971, after completing both his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and his Master of Science degree in Food Technology at the University of Illinois. Under Air Force sponsorship, he completed his PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Colorado in 1987. Dr. Bird has published research related to the chemistry of anti-tumor drugs, waste water recycling in space environments, and the use of ionic liquids to neutralize chemical warfare agents. Dr. Bird also supported Air Force athletics as the Officer Representative for both the baseball and football teams.
In retirement, Dr. Bird continues to serve as a peer reviewer and team chair for The Higher Learning Commission, the regional accrediting body that accredits the United States Air Force Academy and more than 1,100 other schools in a 19-state region in the central United States. Dr. Bird is chairman of the board of directors of the Air Academy Federal Credit Union and now also serves on the board of trustees for Ashford 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.