By Belinda Keiser
Florida-based Keiser University was founded by Dr. Arthur Keiser and Evelyn Keiser in 1977. Both Art and Evelyn were in separate graduate school programs and envisioned starting their own school; it would be student driven with workforce relevant programs.
Art, studying Latin American History, and Evelyn, studying Healthcare Administration, took a calculated risk and opened the Keiser School with one student, and themselves serving as the only two employees. Having joined the university and family in 1984, I have seen its evolution firsthand and I’m proud that today that as a regionally-accredited school we educate almost 18,000 students studying in over 70 associate through doctoral degree programs. We provide employment to 3,500 – mostly Floridians – across 15 campuses statewide and throughout our graduate and international divisions.
We know that we did not get here alone. It is our employees, who also believe that developing Florida’s workforce talent is a mission worth achieving. And, it is the thousands of large and midsized employers and small business owners who serve on our advisory boards guiding our curriculum to ensure our graduates have a competitive edge.
Our family’s venture was always guided by the vision that we would one day leave a lasting educational legacy to Florida and the nation. That vision was realized this past January when Keiser University announced its transition to not-for-profit and its acquisition by Everglades College Inc., a 501(c)3 organization.
While this exciting transition brings opportunities to better serve students and our communities, much will remain constant. We will continue our long-standing charitable giving program, including nearly $12 million in need based and academic scholarships annually. With 62 percent of our graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) and health care, our commitment to these fields will only strengthen. The university has been the state’s leading producer of graduates in Health Sciences and Related Clinical Professions since 2003 and is currently ranked second in Florida and third in the nation in production of Associate in Science Nursing graduates.
Soon, we will pursue the highest Level VI accreditation with more doctoral offerings and implementation of a research division. Our students are now eligible for the Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG), and, with 83 percent already working part- or full-time, many with dependents, this will help them to complete their degrees efficiently. Our faculty may pursue grants and research projects and the university will generate more partnerships with the independent colleges and universities of Florida and articulation agreements similar to those we currently have with the state community colleges, the state universities of both South and Central Florida, and the University of Miami, among others. This fall, the School of Advancing Technology will open at our Pembroke Pines campus offering degrees in emerging technology fields including software engineering, information security and information technology leadership.
The mission of the university to provide career-focused education , and our students-first philosophy remain unchanged. Our staunch advocacy on behalf of students seeking private education continues to be a driving force of our national and statewide efforts, and we strongly believe an inclusive approach to higher education is best for students and Florida’s economic prosperity.
According to a Washington Economics Group study titled, "A Comparative Analysis of the Costs of Instructional Programs at Community Colleges and Public Universities Relative to Keiser University Costs for Similar Program" dated March 2007, it was reported that, "current enrollment projections for the state’s public colleges and universities suggested that an increase of $8.1 billion in operating expenditures for instruction will be needed over the next five years, but this figure will be higher without an expansion in enrollment at Florida’s private colleges and universities".
Private colleges and universities must continue to be included and valued in the state’s framework of higher education.