Troy Woods Selected for Highest Alumnus Honor

When Troy Woods entered Columbus College in 1970, he was following his high school sweetheart to Columbus and looking to play baseball for Coach Charles Ragsdale. The plan evolved halfway to fruition. The Richland, Ga., native married his girlfriend, Gloria Skeen, but as he failed to make the Cougar baseball roster, he excelled as an economics major, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1974.

Fast forward to 2007 and Woods, 55, is president and chief operating officer of TSYS — managing day-to-day operations and executing strategies of one of the world’s largest processor of card payments from credit, debit and private label cards.

TroyRecognizing this consummate success, Columbus State University will bestow its highest alumnus honor on Woods. He will receive the Thomas Y. Whitley Distinguished Alumnus Award, named in honor of the university’s first president, during CSU’s annual President’s Recognition Banquet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12 in the Cunningham Center for Leadership Development. The event also will include honorary alumnus designations and Alumni Service Award presentations. Tickets, $30 apiece, are available by calling CSU’s Alumni Affairs Office at 706-568-2280.

CSU President Frank Brown, who will be among the banquet’s speakers, said Woods exemplifies a successful graduate. “He has been ultra successful in both his business and family life,” said Brown. “He is a key reason for the continued success of TSYS, which indirectly influences the success of CSU and the entire region.”

In his third year as a Columbus College student, Woods accepted a promotion from part-time to full-time with Columbus Bank and Trust. Also a newlywed, he regarded the added income as vital as his education. But instead of compromising his efforts — as either a full-time student or a full-time worker — Woods said a “seasoned and attentive faculty” helped him to thrive in both settings. “That’s when things turned around academically. I became more competitive and focused.”

After earning banking-related graduate degrees from the University of Virginia and Louisiana State University, Woods joined AmSouth Bank in Birmingham in 1979 and became senior vice president for consumer lending. He returned to Columbus in 1987, joining TSYS and eventually earned credit for “critically influencing” its expansion to Canada, Mexico, Europe, and in Asian-Pacific countries and for the company’s technological growth, guiding the development of TS2 as the company’s core payment engine that supports more than 230 million accounts.

According to his Whitley Award nominators, Woods is among those “responsible for the success of his nationally recognized company, as well as a key reason for its growth and employee centered philosophy.” He also has “used his talents and energies to make Columbus a better place to live by volunteering his time community organizations.”

Woods is chair of the Columbus YMCA’s $23 million capital campaign. He recently chaired the Tocqueville Growth Division of the capital campaign of the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley. He is credited for adding 17 donors to this $10,000-plus contribution division.

His support of CSU includes membership in the Tower Society, comprised of alumni who pledge substantial, yearly support to the university. He also generously donated to the Investment in People Capital Campaign and has made provisions for CSU in his estate. In 2003, he was named the D. Abbott Turner College of Business Alumnus of the Year.

Three years ago, Woods told a gathering for a CSU Annual Fund event that his appreciation for the university has been reinforced through his hiring of CSU graduates at TSYS — young professionals whom he said are “following his path. “I pay extra attention to them. They have done tremendously well,” he said.

Another nominator summarized Woods’ story as one mirroring CSU’s growth. “From his modest beginning as a part-time authorization clerk to his current position, Troy’s story is one of determination, unparalleled vision, exceptional business sense and a commitment to servant leadership.”