Columbus Police Officer Completes CSU Degree from Iraq

COLUMBUS, Ga. - As an Army Reserve first lieutenant, Timothy Patterson recently accomplished an unusual feat by completing his Columbus State University graduate studies from his barracks in the northern Iraq desert.

While commanding 188 personnel in combat recovery missions, Patterson completed six courses during a 12-month deployment to finish his Master of Public Administration degree in justice administration.

Now home from Mosul and resuming his civilian career as a Columbus police officer, he will join his wife, Rosa Patterson, as they graduate together during CSU’s fall commencement, starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8 in the Columbus Civic Center. The speaker is state Rep. Richard H. Smith, R-Columbus.

Timothy Patterson in Iraq Rosa, a teacher at Blackmon Road Middle School, has completed her master’s degree in middle grades education. “The timing is perfect … I’m glad that I’m able to be here and share this day with her,” said Timothy Patterson, right, who met his wife in 2003 after both returned home to Columbus from completing their bachelor’s degrees at Morehouse College (Timothy) and Howard University (Rosa).

While his wife was finishing her degree the traditional way on the CSU’s main campus, Patterson improvised to complete his coursework. He routinely skipped lunch breaks and used late-evening hours to conduct his studies with a laptop computer and rudimentary workstation built into his bunk bed by a couple of carpenters serving in his unit.

He also acknowledged his accomplishment would not have been possible without CSU’s recent move to make its Master of Public Administration degree programs accessible online. “Though my professors were on the other side of the world, they challenged me and made me earn this,” Patterson said. “But most of all, Dr. Bill Chappell (MPA program director) worked with me to make this happen.”

Said Chappell: “Lt. Timothy Patterson’s completion of the MPA program while deployed in the U.S. Army in Iraq speaks well of three things: Patterson’s dedication, the program’s commitment to the professional education of mid-career students and the value of online offerings in the fulfillment of this mission.”

With his new degree, Patterson said he intends to apply his education to better serve the community and eventually pursue a doctorate in the field.

For more information on CSU’s fall graduation ceremony, go to