John H. Keiser

Southwest Missouri State University

In 1993, SMSU appointed its first president with previous presidential experience. Dr. John H. Keiser served for 13 years as president of Boise State University before becoming the eighth president of SMS. With a bold vision for transforming the institution into a leading metropolitan university, President Keiser emphasized a single institutional purpose — "to develop educated persons." That purpose would be accomplished, in part, by integrating public affairs into the whole educational enterprise, resulting in a campus-wide commitment to foster competence and responsibility in the common vocation of citizenship. Students were encouraged to understand themselves as citizen-scholars, citizen-chemists, citizen-accountants, citizen-nurses, citizen-teachers.

The Missouri General Assembly recognized the importance of the new focus by granting the university a statewide mission in public affairs in 1995. With the statewide mission, the Board of Regents became the Board of Governors with seven members. Three strategic plans outlining program emphases in professional education, health, business and economic development, creative arts, and science and the environment gave direction during the Keiser era.

With the opening of Ozarks Technical and Community College in 1991, SMS adopted a selective admissions standard which enhanced the academic climate on campus. Program growth focused in the graduate area with 23 new programs added between 1993 and 2005, including the first independent doctoral program in Audiology. By 2005, 20 percent of the student body was graduate students creating the fourth largest graduate program in the state.

A new vocabulary developed during the Keiser period. In addition to metropolitan university and public affairs, emphasis was placed upon the university system consisting of an open admissions, two-year campus in West Plains, a research campus in Mountain Grove, and a campus in Dalian, China. Distance learning became a reality with inter-connected classrooms throughout the region. Information technology enabled a virtual campus with on-line courses and programs. In 2001, public television (KOZK) was added to the broadcasting assets in place since 1974 (KSMU).

A climactic moment came in the spring of 2005 when the Missouri General Assembly authorized an institutional name change to "Missouri State University," acknowledging for the fourth time the growing status of what began as State Normal School #4 in 1905.

Dr. John H. Keiser

Dr. John H. Keiser