Local Educator Named To Florida Women’s Hall of Fame






It is the good thing Evelyn Keiser didn’t listen to her father.

When she was a teenager in Philadelphia of the 1930s, her father told her that college was for her brothers and not her.

Boys and not young women.

“My father said he was supporting (my two brothers) in medical school and I was forget about that and get married,” Keiser recalls.

But Keiser defied her dad and on her own got money to go to Temple University. She ended up with a bachelors in Medical Technology, opened her own medical lab and eventually moved to Florida to co-found what is now known as Keiser University.


Mrs  Evelyn KeiserEvelyn Keiser


Today, the school has roughly 16,000 students studying at around 20 campuses, including overseas. It also has a vigorous online program

Thousands of Keiser students have graduated to jobs in medicine, law enforcement, business and many others fields.

It is quite an achievement for Keiser, who was once told education was for her brothers and not her.

Next month, Gov. Rick Scott will recognize Keiser’s role in education.

The 91-year-old educator will be inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. Her name will be displayed in the lobby of the state Capitol along with such earlier inductees as civil rights leader Mary Bethune, musician Gloria Estefan and South Florida pioneer Julia Tuttle.

It has been a long journey from her birth in 1924 to the wall of the Capitol.

Born Evelyn Cahn, she always excelled in school. Seeking a challenge and following her interests, she entered a tough field for women after college – medical technology. It was a male dominated field then.

Her husband, a physician, entered the military during World War II. Using her degree, she was employed in several hospitals and medical labs.

After the war, she opened her own medical lab, which was revolutionary for a woman at the time. She operated it for a dozen years. Then she sold it and she began teaching medical sciences.

In 1961, the family moved to Florida because, she says, “My husband wanted to play tennis every day.”

She taught medical science courses at a higher ed level.

In 1977, Evelyn was comparing notes with her son Art Keiser. They were both in college working towards Master’s degrees.

The way she recalls it:

“We were having dinner one night when Art said. ‘How do you like your program?’ I said I didn’t because nobody at the school seemed to care.

“He said, ‘I think we can do better.’

“The next thing I know there is this application in the mail from the state. It was a huge application (to start a school).”

Evelyn Keiser, who was in her fifties at the time,  questioned whether she should or could attempt to start a new college.

Art was insistent. “He said, ‘You can do it, Mom.’”

Keiser School opened shortly afterward on Oakland Park Boulevard with one classroom. Evelyn was in charge of the medical science courses.

Terry Avitable was the first student. Her career has proved Keiser University’s value to the students.

After a lengthy career as a registered nurse and working in corporate sales, Avitable returned to Keiser to help establish the school’s associate in science nursing program. She remains employed at the school.

Keiser School eventually became Keiser College and in 2006, Keiser University. Her son, Art, is the chancellor.

The school today offers dozens of programs with the most popular being Business Administration and Management, followed by Criminal Justice.

The secret of Keiser U’s success?

“(Teachers) do care at the schools we started,” Keiser says. “We care. We care for our students. Students are number one.”

And a fact that is particularly fitting for a new inductee to the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame: Approximately 68 percent of Keiser’s students are women.

Says Keiser proudly, “We have helped a lot of women.”


One Response to “Local Educator Named To Florida Women’s Hall of Fame”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Buddy, you are doing Evelyn Keiser a disservice. She is a wonderful, warm woman, however the picture doesn’t do her justice. It makes her appears mean.


    That was the picture supplied by the school. They picked it.