Keiser University (visited 2/7/16)
Keiser is in the midst of a massive overhaul and should continue transforming dramatically over the next several years. Until last year, this had been Northwood College, owned and operated as a satellite campus of the parent university in Michigan. Now, the university in its entirety has been bought by Keiser which runs programs all over Florida. This will be their traditional, 4-year, residential campus.
This small campus is Keiser’s flagship and only residential campus. As part of the buy-out agreement, all current students can continue with their Northwood programs. Some of these will phase out as the current students finish, some will continue, and many programs will be added. Most of the Northwood students stayed, and the current seniors, assuming they finish their degree requirements by the end of the school year, will receive Northwood diplomas. All others will receive Keiser diplomas.
They licensed all the programs for 4 years so it’s a seamless transition. In addition to those programs, they’re picking up all of Keiser’s health care and liberal arts programs. There was also very little faculty turnover; 2 retired, a couple others left. They did hire more so they have more working here than before.
“Students First” is the recurring theme. President Tom Duncan (a PhD in PoliSci and an Anglican Priest from the Ozarks) welcomed us as we arrived, shaking everyone’s hand and chatting. In his opening remarks, he said, “I suspect that we’re not going forward as a liberal arts program but more comprehensive with business and health care, maybe computer science. It’ll be a little more practical, more hands-on.” He’s very proud that the accreditation team visited and found nothing wrong (although without a health or counseling center on campus – according to the admissions rep I spoke to – I’m not sure how that’s possible. I hope this is one of the areas they work on quickly).
Students seem to come here for the sports or for very specific academic programs. The panel of students we spoke to included:
- A sophomore from the Bahamas, majoring in Finance and Econ. He was looking for good academics, a positive atmosphere, and the ability to connect to professors. He said he was surprised at how friendly people were: “I had an image from American movies, but people so nice here!” It’s why he stays.
- A senior from Columbia, majoring in Int’l business and finance. She likes the small classrooms and personal connections. “We’re surrounded by people we know and we’re familiar with.” He started playing baseball but got injured.
- A Marketing and Advertising Major came here because of her passion for business. “There are lots of volunteering opportunities and options to join clubs.”
- A sophomore Canadian student is enrolled in the Automotive Marketing and Management program. “It’s a pretty specific program. Not many schools offer it.”
- A student from Texas transferred from a school in Iowa. She plays volleyball here. “We live in paradise!”
Their athletic program is particularly strong; their 17 DII teams (19 next year with the addition of lacrosse and swimming) play in the NAIA against schools like SCAD and Johnson & Wales. Women’s golf won last year and are currently #1 ranked. (As a side note: golfers have a GPA of 3.92). They offer $1,000 athletic scholarships.
Driving into campus felt like a wilderness preserve. They own 100 acres, most of which is not currently being used. They’ve received a level 6 accreditation which means they can offer doctoral programs, and they plans for expansion and new buildings. Enrollment is currently 600 full-time undergrads with a goal for 1000 within 3 years. They’re approved for 1800 students, but would ultimately like to go beyond that. Application numbers are soaring with 2.5 times as many applications as this time last year. Students need a minimum of 2.75 GPA and a 16 ACT or 880 SAT to get in. About 1/3 of the students are international; the TOEFL or SAT/ACT is needed when their high school instruction wasn’t in English. Keiser offers good merit scholarships, also available to international students.
Health Care programs are strong. They offer programs such as BioMedical Technology (also counts as their Pre-Med program), Dietetics and Nutrition, and Imaging Sciences. They’ve just been approved to offer a BSN this fall. They’ll pull in 2 cohorts a year (1 each semester) with 24 students per cohort. Eventually, this campus will offer every 4-year health program that Keiser offers. Currently, they don’t have labs built, but they should be open by the fall of 2016.
The Sports Medicine & Fitness Technology programs looks for motivated, disciplined, people who want to help others. “Students in this program are a mix of brains and brawn. They usually embrace a health lifestyle, and perhaps want to pursue a career in PT, Chiropractics, or OT.”
Sports Management is a BS or a BBA degree: students hit the ground running when they get here, and almost half get weeded out: “They realize they want to have fun, but this really is a business. This isn’t what they pictured it to be.” They give students a combination of sports management AND business to appeal to both types of employers. About 2/3 of students get a job in the field upon graduation, higher than the 50% national average, and they’re also well prepared for grad or law school through an internship and a practicum. They get jobs in professional and college sports, Sport tourism, Facility management, Adventure sports, Sports Agent, or sport lawyers.
In the College of Golf Management students become teachers, go into the Hospitality industry, design clubs or golf courses, etc. Right now, this is an AA degree, and students usually continue on to do a BS in Sports Management. They have a very high placement rate for students in this program. They have 3 PGA professionals on staff.
We asked the student panelists about their favorite class:
- Entrepreneurship: “I always loved it. I spoke to the teacher and he invited me to a class and that extended to the whole semester. I love verbal communication and he spoke right to us. No PowerPoints or anything. Being able to sit in on a class I didn’t even have to register for was great.”
- Capital Investments: “It gave me knowledge I could apply to my internships.”
- Principles of Advertising. “It teaches you a little psychology and how to sell. It’s really interesting! I want to be involved in all aspects of my business.”
- Italian: “I like learning languages.”
- Current trends in Advertising. “There were only 5 students. We bring in articles and talk about what’s new. Next week’s project will be the Super Bowl commercials.”