I am sad to report that Dr. John Keiser, who served as the president of Boise State University from 1978 to 1991, passed away this week.
His tenure as president was a vibrant time on campus that saw the construction of the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts and the athletics and entertainment facility now known as Taco Bell Arena, the creation of the Frank Church Chair of Public Affairs, the affiliation of Boise State’s radio station with National Public Radio, and the installation of the Blue Turf.
Boise State’s two Rhodes Scholars, filmmaker Michael Hoffman and financial industry leader Karl Knapp, both attended during Dr. Keiser’s time as president.
Dr. Keiser’s mantra — “There is no great city without a great university” — is still a guiding force at Boise State University today.
He was an extensively published historian, with a focus on the state of Illinois (where he grew up, the son and grandson of teachers) and a passion for public affairs. He embraced a statewide public affairs mission both here at Boise State and later at Missouri State University, where he served as president from 1993 until his retirement in 2005.
Dr. Keiser also served as Provost of then Sangamon State University, now the University of Illinois at Springfield, during the time I served as a faculty member there. I remember calling John when I was a candidate for the Boise State Presidency to ask for his advice. His passion and love for Boise and Boise State came through loud and clear when he told me in no uncertain terms to take the job if offered. That was the best career advice I ever received, so it was a special moment when we could honor him shortly after I arrived with his name on Keiser Hall.
Dr. Keiser majored in social science with a minor in French at Eastern Illinois University, and earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in history at Northwestern University. He and his wife, Nancy, returned upon his retirement to Boise, where he had once been named Citizen of the Year.
He was a vital part of the story of both Boise State University and the city of Boise, and he will be missed. I know I speak for all of as at Boise State when I offer Nancy and their three sons our deepest condolences.
Boise State political science students involved in community service benefit from a scholarship in his name. If you wish to honor Dr. Keiser here on campus, you may contribute to the Dr. John Keiser Public Affairs Scholarship or the John & Nancy Keiser Athletic Endowed Scholarship. You can give online at giving.boisestate.edu or by sending a check payable to the Boise State Foundation.
Original Sources: Quoted from Bob Kustra, 1/22/16, KTVB, 1/21/16