Ron K. Bailey was born in Lamar, West Virginia and served in the US Army. He did undergraduate studies in computers at Northern Virginia Community College and Strayer University and his graduate work at American University.
In 1974 Ron Bailey began teaching computer information systems at Strayer College (now Strayer University) in Washington, DC. He excelled at managing computer information systems and over the next several years he worked his way up from teaching computers to running the school’s information systems. In 1986 he was appointed Senior Vice President of the college and dedicated his efforts to running the school, itself.
But, Strayer College was struggling with low enrollment and an antiquated curriculum. The President at the time asked Bailey to help him sell his interest in the company so he could retire. In 1989 Bailey borrowed as much money as the banks would allow him and bought controlling interest in Strayer College. He assumed the position of President of the college and immediately embarked upon an ambitious campaign to improve the curriculum and boost enrollment. Strayer College soon became Strayer University. Among his many other innovations, Bailey developed a graduate degree program and ensured that the University’s computer courses were on the cutting edge of technology. Perhaps his most groundbreaking idea, however, was to design a school that revolved around the student experience, not the faculty, or the management. He answered each decision presented to him by asking, “What’s best for the students?” With this guiding principal Strayer University quickly became one of the national leaders in the for-profit education industry. Students flocked to fill Strayer classrooms. Enrollment soared from 1,000 to over 14,000.
Soon, Wall Street took notice and, in 1996, shares of Strayer Education (STRA) began trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Bailey became chairman of the school’s board of trustees and served in that capacity until 2001, when he retired to Tampa, FL to focus full time on the goal of helping more students make their college dreams a reality through the Bailey Family Foundation.
Bailey has maintained a full and active retirement in Tampa. In addition to his involvement with the Bailey Family Foundation, he is actively involved as a director of The Palm Bank in Tampa, America’s Choice Title in Jacksonville, The University of Tampa, Special Operations Warriors Foundation in Tampa, Tampa General Hospital, The Salvation Army Tampa Command, and Cork United Methodist Church in Plant City, Florida.
In his spare time Bailey enjoys tending his Black Angus Cattle on his ranch in Plant City and spending time with his wife, 2 sons and 8 grandchildren who all live nearby in Tampa.
As Bailey reflects on his past successes he insists that education was the key to transforming him from a poor kid with no prospects for the future into a college professor, then a University President and, eventually, a corporate CEO. The U.S. Army was there to help Bailey get his education. Now, through the Bailey Family Foundation, he is determined to help others improve their own lives.