TSYS, the Columbus-based credit card and payment processor, has donated $5 million to Columbus State University - the largest contribution ever given to CSU's Turner College of Business.
The gift is part of a partnership to develop a new program at CSU to prepare students for careers in cybersecurity, the university announced Monday. According to CSU's news release, the money will be used as follows:
$2.5 million to establish the TSYS Cybersecurity Center for Financial Services in the TSYS School of Computer Science at Turner College of Business. An endowment will supplement salaries to attract nationally recognized faculty, fund new research assistantships and student scholarships, support faculty and student travel, and finance projects and initiatives.
$2 million to establish another endowment, this one to support excellence in academic programs, specifically mainframe computing, information technology and information systems.
$500,000 for other CSU programs. Asked to specify those programs, CSU communications specialist Christa Robbins said in an email to the Ledger-Enquirer they include support for the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, CSU athletics, general scholarships and academic competitions in math and science.
"TSYS has been proud to partner with CSU through the years in a variety of valuable initiatives, including the naming of the TSYS School of Computer Science in 2002," CSU graduate Troy Woods, the chairman, president and chief executive officer of TSYS, said in the news release. "The establishment of the Cybersecurity Center as well as the Endowment for Excellence represent the next step in TSYS' partnership with CSU, and we look forward to seeing the fruit of this important investment in our community, our company and the financial services industry."
CSU is one of seven institutions selected in January to develop the University System of Georgia's capabilities in information technology and cybersecurity and increase the number of qualified graduates for those careers. In his memo explaining the need for the consortium, USG chancellor Hank Huckaby said, "The U.S. Army Cyber Command, the U.S. National Security Agency, the financial transaction processing industry, and the health informatics and healthcare information technology industries play a huge and exponentially growing role in Georgia's knowledge economy. The number of graduates in the information technology and cyber security programs of our combined institutions is not currently capable of meeting the existing and projected workforce demands of these industries in Georgia."
The gift from TSYS will help CSU meet that challenge.
"We are deeply appreciative that TSYS has joined CSU in this partnership and believe that together we can help provide real world solutions to this pressing problem and be a true innovator in the field," Tom Hackett, CSU's provost and vice president for academic affairs, said in the news release.
CSU president Chris Markwood, who assumed leadership of the university June 1 after serving as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas A&M University-Corpus-Christi, said in the news release, "These agreements and these gifts are a testament to the strength of TSYS' commitment to CSU and its students. It was such strength of community that first attracted me and my family to Columbus State University."
The TSYS donation brings the $100 million CSU First Choice Campaign to more than $65 million in gifts and commitments, according to Alan Medders, CSU's vice president for university advancement. The campaign goal, which CSU announced in March, is the most ambitious in the institution's 57-year history. Targeted to be finished by 2019, the fundraising effort is designed to help CSU "continue to attract and retain first-choice students and faculty, construct world-class facilities and endow the university with the means to enhance academic and athletic programs," the news release said.