Keiser University acquires Northwood University – West Palm Beach campus
Written by Barbara A. Schmitz from an interview with Dr. Arthur Keiser, Chancellor and CEO of Keiser University
Add high-quality academics with career-focused education and what do you get?
The future of higher education, according to Dr. Arthur Keiser, chancellor and CEO of Keiser University, a private, regionally accredited, not-for-profit university with 20,000 students located in southeastern United States and internationally. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Keiser University employs 3,500 staff and faculty.
The Turner Education Center at Keiser University (formally Northwood University) in West Palm Beach.
In July 2015, Keiser University completed its acquisition of Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Fla., giving the university system 18 campuses in Florida. With that acquisition, Keiser said he plans to prove that they have the “recipe for success” for higher education, as well as provide students with a residential, traditional educational experience in West Palm Beach.
“We are committed to continuing to provide students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, understanding, and talent needed to compete globally and achieve their dreams,” he said. “We believe that traditional liberal arts education is a challenge to the future and we are hoping we can demonstrate that a university of our type, which is a mixture of both traditional and non-traditional students who are career focused, will be what the United States is going to look like in terms of higher education,” Keiser said. “This is our future. We think this will be the recipe for success for higher education.”
Founded in 1977, Keiser University has primarily focused on adult learners in its Florida campuses, as well as its regionally accredited off-campus sites in San Marcos, Nicaragua and Shanghai, China, and learning centers in Moldova, Taiwan and Seoul. But with its acquisition of Northwood University West Palm Beach in July, Keiser University acquired its second residential campus — the first in Florida — providing student dormitories, athletic teams and other traditional campus amenities and enhancing Keiser’s educational offers and services for traditional students.
“A number of years ago, the board made a commitment to significantly increase its high school population and its commitment to the more traditional higher educational delivery system,” Keiser said. “This is the genesis of the acquisition of the campus in West Palm Beach, the traditional college campus.”
Northwood University also has a long history. Started by Dr. Arthur E. Turner and Dr. R. Gary Stauffer in 1959, Northwood University primarily teaches business at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. Based in Midland, Mich., Northwood closed its Dallas, Texas campus in February 2014, with the goal of training out the students in its West Palm Beach, Fla. campus. But in August 2014, Northwood University asked Keiser if they were interested in training out their students and purchasing the campus.
The timing was right, Keiser said.
“We were working on a project then to develop a campus in Palm Beach Garden, Fla., which is about 15-16 miles from the current Northwood location,” he recalled. “The developer planned to donate 200 acres of land to the university, and we were going to build a traditional campus there. But due to challenges with getting approvals from the city of Palm Beach Gardens, we jumped at the opportunity to work with Northwood University. We think it was a worthwhile project.”
Everybody has worked hard on the project, he said. “Any time you marry two cultures it creates challenges,” Keiser said. Current campus president Dr. Tom Duncan will continue to lead the campus, while working closely with Dr. Michele Morgan, Keiser University’s associate vice chancellor.
Keiser said the Northwood location is very special. “It is 100 acres of prime property in the middle of West Palm Beach, Fla.,” he said. “It is directly in the middle between I-95 and the turnpike.”
The Julia M. and William J. Edwards Bell Tower at Keiser University (formally Northwood University) in West Palm Beach.
Of the 100-acre site, 80 acres have not been developed. While only 70 acres are developable, it will still allow the University to grow and build the campus, Keiser said. Keiser University’s not-for-profit status made the acquisition possible, he said.
“There is really very little advantage for a for-profit institution to own real estate,” he said. “Most for-profit institutions are focused on nontraditional adult learners, like we have been for almost 40 years. But as a not-for-profit, our goal will be to raise money to construct buildings to fill out the acreage, to expand offerings to students, and to become a destination for students from all over the world. The not-for-profit status certainly encourages us in terms of the lack of property taxes and the incentive of being able to raise money to offset the costs.”
Keiser said it had been a long-time goal to establish a flagship campus in Florida. The Northwood University campus, located at 2600 N. Military Trail in West Palm Beach, became Keiser University’s second West Palm Beach location with an existing campus located on Vista Parkway. This acquisition was made possible, in part, through a benefactor’s $10 million donation, ensuring that the students at the West Palm Beach campus of Northwood University will complete their education in an effective and seamless manner as Keiser University students. The college is financing the balance of the purchase, which was $31.5 million, he said.
Keiser said the Northwood acquisition would help Keiser University realize its vision and help it continue to grow. “As Keiser University has grown, we have added a lot of different programs in a lot of different areas,” he said. They have also expanded the degrees offered. “When we first started, we were a traditional vocational technical school.” In 1984, Keiser University added associate degrees, in 1994 bachelor’s degrees, in 2002 master’s degrees, and in 2006 the University added doctoral programs.
“We have grown in terms of our academic offerings,” he said. “We are now able to do research, which was not required obviously as a vocational school, but it is certainly an expectation for a graduate terminal degree-granting institution.”
Keiser said the new campus is pristine with “absolutely magnificent buildings designed by a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright.”
The DeVos Cook Academic Center at Keiser University (formally Northwood University) in West Palm Beach.
He added, “We think this will be very attractive for us not only in attracting high-quality faculty and high-quality students, but also having members of the community participate with us in the building of what we hope to be a very special campus.”
With the acquisition, Keiser will be expanding its target market beyond adult learners. “Our mission is to provide quality career education to motivated students,” Keiser said. “Northwood University’s mission was very business driven with a bachelor’s in business administration and a master’s in business administration. We are going to continue to be career focused, but at various levels: bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral. So it fits very closely into our mission.
“The difference, especially at the undergraduate level, is that a majority of the students will be non-local, traditional-aged high school graduates who want to come to West Palm Beach, which is as beautiful a place as any in the United States, and go to a safe learning environment where they can have concentrated, focused learning by quality faculty,” Keiser said.
While Northwood’s West Palm Beach campus had very limited programs, Keiser plans to add new programs and relocate its College of Golf and Sport Management there. They also plan to build a golf training facility at the new campus, including chipping, putting and driving facilities. Keiser said their golf program currently has about 125 students at its Port St. Lucie campus that will need to make the move. “Many of our students in the golf program need dormitories, which we did not have at the Port St. Lucie campus,” he said. “This provides our students with dormitories and food services that all the international and traditional students require.”
Keiser University also plans to add academic programs in Psychology, and bachelor’s degrees in Nursing and Computer Science. Additional programs and degrees will depend on community need.
“We will be monitoring the needs of the community and the needs of the students as we progress,” he said. Keiser University will maintain the traditional semester schedule at the new campus, but will also offer more summer classes than have been offered in the past, he said.
The Northwood campus will become Keiser University’s flagship campus. “Our goal is to move the office of the chancellor there, and to move the basic administrative functions of the university there,” he said.
The Countess de Hoernle Student Life Center at Keiser University (formally Northwood University) campus in West Palm Beach.
In addition, Keiser will continue the 17 sports teams that are currently active at Northwood, including basketball, soccer, tennis and golf, to name a few. “It will add to the culture of the university,” he said, noting that last year the women’s golf team was the national champion for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Sun Conference. In addition, Roland Vincent “Rollie” Massimino, who took Villanova to the national championship in 1985 for the NCAA, coaches their basketball team.
The traditional college student benefits directly from the sports, he said. “We get a lot of kids who want to be competitive in a small school where they can play, vs. the semi-professional Division 1 School. They find it very attractive to come to Keiser University’s flagship campus because we have all the fields, a magnificent gymnasium and excellent workout facilities and trainers. We have a lot of very good student athletes, some who are on scholarship.”
All the changes at the new campus should bring about more students. The Northwood campus currently has about 580 students. By 2018, Keiser said they hope to be at about 950 students, and by 2025, they hope to have 2,500 students enrolled.
Eventually, the campus will include doctoral programs and they will build some professional program buildings on campus, but the graduate school will stay in Fort Lauderdale, he said. The campus will also be home to the new Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which is intended to prepare graduates to start their own businesses and reach greater heights in their chosen professions.
Keiser said the center would be tied to their MBA programs. “But our goal is to develop a research center … and bring in high-end faculty and high-end former and retired business leaders who want to create kind of an incubator for students to learn entrepreneurship and develop leadership skills so they can improve the economy,” he said. “This is a big part of what Northwood was, and it is a big part of what Keiser is. We think that marriage is going to be very successful.”
Arthur Keiser, Ph.D. is Chancellor and CEO of Keiser University, which is comprised of 18 Florida campuses. Keiser University serves approximately 20,000 students and employs over 3,500 staff and faculty.
Dr. Keiser has served the higher education sector in various capacities for more than 35 years. He is currently serving his third term as a Board Member of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), having been appointed by Speaker of the House, John Boehner. Dr. Keiser was appointed by the Governor of Florida to both, the State Board of Independent Colleges and Universities and the State Board of Independent Postsecondary, Vocational, Technical, Trade and Business Schools. He has also served as President of the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges (FAPSC). He also served as Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU). Dr. Keiser is a former member of the Jacob K. Javits Fellows Program Fellowship Board. He served as elected Chairperson and Board Member of the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT).
Dr. Keiser earned his doctorate in Higher Education Administration at the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, OH. He wrote his dissertation on Benchmarking in Private Career Schools: A Preliminary Empirical Investigation in the Establishment of Quantitative Strategic Indicators in this Specialized Postsecondary Education sector.
Most recently he presented as the guest of the Secretary General of China on the topics of Building International Campuses, and Career Education in the United States. Under his leadership, Keiser University has grown internationally with campuses in San Marcos, Nicaragua and Shanghai, China and learning centers in Seoul, Taiwan, and Moldova. Keiser University has earned Level VI regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges signifying recognition of its expanded doctoral degree programs.
Contact Information: Dr. Arthur Keiser // Chancellor and CEO // Keiser University // Phone: 954-776-4476 // firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Arthur Keiser Named ‘Father of Year’ for Family, Career, and Community Involvement
The chancellor and CEO of Keiser University was recently named “Father of the Year” for making family a priority while balancing career and community involvement.
Dr. Keiser received the award from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the local Father’s Day Council in a ceremony that not only recognized Keiser and other fathers, but also raised funds for diabetes research, education and advocacy. Since 2000 the Fathers’ Day Council and the American Diabetes Association have partnered to raise more than $35 million.
The local council chose Keiser for the award because of his commitment to family, students, philanthropy and his community. Keiser University’s annual student needs-based and academic scholarship fund has increased to $44 million annually. He and his wife, Belinda, also established the Keiser Mills Foundation to provide scholarships to domestic and international students seeking to broaden and advance their education, community service, and leadership skills through study and work experiences in the United States and internationally.
In addition, Keiser and his family set an example that community service is a responsibility. They have volunteered and donated to many organizations, including the ADA, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, March of Dimes Foundation, Legal Aid Services of Broward County, the American Heart Association, Susan G. Komen Foundation and others.
Since more than 20 percent of Keiser University’s student body are military students or family members of military personnel, Keiser has spearheaded charitable giving for related organizations to meet their needs and recognize their service. For example, the children of deployed service members are recipients of Keiser University’s annual Operation Homefront holiday toy drive. Keiser has also sponsored hundreds of Keiser University employees and students competing in the annual Tough Mudder competition to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and other local veterans’ initiatives.
In recent years, Keiser, his family and the Keiser University campuses have contributed approximately $25,000 to the ADA and participated in numerous walks and volunteer activities statewide in support of diabetes research and those impacted by the disease.
The mission of the American Diabetes Association is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.