At 84 years young, Evelyn Keiser, Co-founder of Keiser University is still the first on campus each morning. She and her son, Dr. Arthur Keiser of the Keiser family, founded the Keiser School in 1977 to serve the educational needs of career-focused students and help meet the workforce demands of the growing healthcare industry in South Florida. They never dreamt that just 31 years later their one student and one program start-up endeavor would grow into one of Florida’s largest independent, regionally accredited universities with 13 locations including a Graduate School, nearly 12,000 students and over 40 degree programs.
Ms. Keiser fondly recalls the first day the school opened. She remembers her first and only student at that time, Terry Prezzemello, arriving late and fearing she had disrupted the class. Ms. Keiser nervously told her, “It’s okay dear, you are the class.”
On Sept. 26, Ms. Keiser, a 1945 graduate of Temple University, is being inducted into her alma mater’s Gallery of Success. Now in its 11th year, the Gallery of Success is a collaborative effort between Temple University’s Career Services Center and Office of Alumni Relations. The Gallery’s mission is two-fold: to provide current students an opportunity to recognize and be inspired by the success of Temple graduates who have gone before them and achieved success in their chosen fields, and to honor Temple alumni who have distinguished themselves in their careers serving as an inspiration to others in the attainment of their Temple degrees.
Ms. Keiser graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology, one of only a few women in that field of study. As a military wife, she traveled throughout the United States where her education and ambition for the medical field led to her employment in several hospitals and medical labs.
After World War II, she returned to Philadelphia and opened her own medical lab which she operated for more than 12 years. As the demands of motherhood increased, Ms. Keiser sold her medical lab and embarked on a rewarding teaching career. She joined the Franklin School of Sciences and led the Medical Sciences and Lab Technology programs. In 1963, Ms. Keiser moved with her family to South Florida. In 1970, she helped begin the medical division at the newly opened Fort Lauderdale campus of Charron-Williams College. She left in 1977 to launch the first Keiser School with Dr. Keiser and while he tackled the administrative duties, Ms. Keiser assumed the teaching and faculty development responsibilities.
In 1981, another dream of hers became a reality when the Medical Laboratory Technician program was added to the Keiser School course offerings. Under Ms. Keiser’s direction, the program received accreditation from the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, confirming the highest quality in medical laboratory academics and training.
The Keiser School name progression from Keiser Institute of Technology (1982) to Keiser College (1986) and Keiser University (2006) reflects milestones including new degree programs, multiple branch campuses, accreditation achievements and the addition of the Graduate School offering Master’s degrees. Nearly three decades later Ms. Keiser is still active in the university serving as Chairwoman of the Board of Advisors.
Throughout her lifelong career in the medical and higher education fields, Evelyn Keiser has been awarded honors too numerous to list including “Teacher of the Year” and “Educator of the Year.”
In February 2004, Ms. Keiser was awarded an honorary doctorate from Beijing University citing her commitment to educational articulation agreements between China and the United States.
To the faculty and administration of Keiser University, Ms. Keiser sets the example that all students deserve the highest quality academic instruction. As a result, the top honor awarded to faculty members that have excelled in a proactive teaching approach focused on successful student learning outcomes was recently re-named the Evelyn C. Keiser Teaching Excellence Award.
And, Ms. Keiser and Dr. Keiser never forgot that first student who took a chance on the family’s dream of shaking up the status quo in higher education, by developing a quality, career focused educational institution with a students first philosophy.
Terry Prezzemello, now known as Terry Schmidt, graduated 30 years ago, and after a career as a registered nurse and in corporate sales, she returned to Keiser to help establish the university’s Associate of Science in nursing degree program. Keiser University’s nursing program currently serves approximately 1,000 students making it one of the largest nursing programs in Florida. As an instructor, Schmidt trains registered nurses to become surgical operating room nurses in Keiser’s prestigious Perioperative Nursing program.
About Keiser University:
Keiser University is Florida’s leading private, statewide provider of career-focused, post-secondary education and is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Keiser University serves approximately 14,000 students seeking associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in over 40 high demand degree programs.
According to a Community College Week analysis of U. S. Department of Education data released June 16, 2008, Keiser University is the nationwide leader in production of Associate of Science graduates in Health Professions and Related Sciences for the third straight year (2006-2008).
For more information on Keiser University, visit www.keiseruniversity.edu.