Summer Spotlight Series: Keiser University
Posted on July 20, 2016
Welcome back to our Summer Spotlight Series! Our university partner in the spotlight this week is: Keiser University.
Keiser University, which was founded in 1977, currently has over 18 campuses in Florida and offers degree programs in over 100 doctoral, specialist, master’s, bachelor’s, and associate fields.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Debora Johnston, the Dean of Academic Affairs at Keiser University Jacksonville.
Q: Where is your hometown and what brought you to Northeast Florida?
A: I am from Williamston, Michigan! I’ve been working in higher education for over 13 years and I was working for DeVry University in Waukesha, Wisconsin when I was recruited by Keiser University for an open position in Jacksonville. My husband and I came down here to check out the community and the city and we fell in love with it and decided to make it our home!
Q: Tell us about your alma mater and your experience there as a student.
A: I attended Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan for my undergrad degree, and it was a very traditional university. I actually did one year at a community college and then transferred to Grand Valley for the remainder of my education. My experience as a student actually makes me appreciate what I do here at Keiser—and at the previous institutions I've worked for— because I was not the “typical” student who went to a traditional university straight out of high school and completed my degree in 4 years. Since I went to community college for a year and then transferred, it took about 5 years to complete my undergrad degree. I think having that experience definitely helps me relate to the students we have here [at Keiser] and also to a lot of the students that we are helping serve through Earn Up.
Q: What drew you to Earn Up and what makes you excited to be a part of the collaboration?
A: At Keiser, our mission and our goal is to help students graduate. So, here at Keiser University Jacksonville we don’t enroll "students", we enroll "future graduates" and so, Earn Up was definitely something we felt that we needed to be a part of. [With Earn Up] a lot of the universities in the community are at the table to talk about how we can help students get college degrees and contribute to the workforce that we have here and I think it’s definitely something that we [Keiser University Jacksonville] can bring value to and contribute to.
Q: Why is college attainment important to you?
A: Well, personally, I’m a first-generation college graduate so I was the first to attend and graduate college in my family. College attainment is obviously very important as we are trying to change our workforce as a nation. For me, not having had parents or siblings that went to college, a major personal goal was to graduate and get a quality education and that is also what really drew me to education in the first place.
Q: What are some of the major initiatives that Keiser University Jacksonville is focusing on right now?
A: One of our campus’s strategic initiatives is to ensure that we are offering programs that match the needs of the community. So, through feedback from our community partners and the growing diversity in the area, we have implemented some new programs to meet those needs. Recently, over the past two years, we have rolled out programs in biomedical sciences, transportation and logistics, and, most recently, hospitality. So, as those are new programs for us, we are really focusing on growing those programs and letting the community know that we have these available for students, both adult and high school.
Q: What sets Keiser University Jacksonville apart from other colleges and universities?
A: What makes us unique is that we offer quality academic and career-related education in an atmosphere that gives personalized attention to students, meaning that we put students first. We have an open door policy, so students can come down and see the Dean whenever they want, they can even see the Campus President whenever they want, and that’s a little bit different than a traditional university. When I was at Grand Valley, I don’t think that I ever met an academic advisor or the Dean of my program, let alone the Campus President of the university! We want to ensure that that personalized attention and the service that we have to offer to the students is made available to them at all times.
Additionally, it’s our goal to train career-minded individuals, offering education that produces employable, skilled, responsible and professional graduates. Our graduates, from Keiser University Jacksonville, are prepared to graduate with the professional skills necessary to meet the needs of the workforce and the community that we live in.
If you are interested in learning more about Keiser University Jacksonville and the programs offered, click here.