Accrediting Commission Honors Columbia Southern University Graduates


ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) recently recognized Columbia Southern University (CSU) graduates as Outstanding Graduate and Famous Alumni during the commission’s 92nd annual DEAC conference in San Diego April 22-24.

The annual conference features an awards ceremony that recognizes individuals and outstanding graduates from the DEAC’s accredited organizations. CSU graduates Daniel Hughes and Howard “Skip” Elliott were recognized respectively. The event honors recipients based on contributions to their career fields, public interests served and how they have used their degrees to advance their personal and professional lives.

Hughes, a division safety manager with Parsons, earned his bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health from CSU and is currently working on his master’s in occupational safety and health at CSU and is studying to become a Certified Safety Professional® via the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. A dedicated humanitarian, Hughes was one of 11 Parsons employees selected for a bridge-building project in Rio Grande, Panama in 2017. Hughes has worked alongside regulating organizations including the Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, OSHA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“I am humbled and honored to be the outstanding graduate. Distance learning and specifically Columbia Southern has afforded me opportunities that a few years ago really did not exist, at least not for me. I will be forever grateful.”

Elliott, who holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from CSU, is an administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. He was nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the U.S. Senate for this position.

A veteran of the U.S. freight rail industry, Elliott has been leading safety initiatives in the boardroom, city halls, state houses and on Capitol Hill for more than 40 years. As the vice president of public safety, health and environment for CSX, Elliott oversaw environmental, hazardous materials transportation safety, medical, occupational health and industrial hygiene, railroad policing and homeland security initiatives. Elliott retired from CSX in March 2017.