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Dr. Thomas Keyser appointed founding dean for the ISU College of Engineering

Written by on January 20, 2023

Photo provided by Illinois State University 

NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State University announced on January 13th that Dr. Thomas Keyser will be named a founding dean for the ISU College of Engineering.

Keyser, currently serving as the Dean of the College of Engineering, Technology and Management at Oregon Institute of Technology, was appointed to be the first head of the college by Provost Aondover Tarhule and is slated to start the new position on April 1.

The highly accredited dean brings decades of engineering education and industry experience to Illinois State and will help the College of Engineering develop curriculum, connect with industry partners, and recruit faculty.

“Equity, diversity, and inclusiveness are essential to the future of engineering education and to developing engineers who will design and implement solutions to the challenges facing this world,” said Keyser.

Keyser comes into ISU with an abundance of engineering education as well as experience from within the industry. He’ll share his knowledge to help the College of Engineering develop curriculum, connect with the industry, and recruit faculty.

“He brings a wealth of experience, a deep knowledge of the engineering education landscape and shares our vision of diversifying the profession. His knowledge will be key in helping design the facilities and in recruiting a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff,” said Provost Tarhule. 

“There is a critical need to diversify the STEM pipeline and ensure that more educational opportunities are available to students who have been historically underrepresented and underserved in engineering education,” said President Terri Goss Kinzy. “Illinois State’s College of Engineering will work to change the landscape of engineering education, promote workforce development, and address a critical market need for more engineers. We welcome Dr. Keyser and look forward to his leadership of this important endeavor.” 

During his time at Oregon Institute of Technology, Keyser oversaw six academic departments, research centers, and constructions and renovations of engineering centers. Before Oregon, Keyser held positions at Clemson University, Ohio University, University of Southern Colorado, and Western New England University.

ISU is excited to move forward with its newest academic college. Keyser has taken this position in hopes of developing a program that “helps close long standing gaps in enrollment, retention and graduation of underrepresented and underserved students in the engineering field.” Keyser’s focus for the spring is to make connections for the college and appoint a diversity director. Eventually Keyser hopes to have ABET-accredited engineering programs at ISU by 2030.

The College of Engineering is set to include electrical and mechanical engineering departments, with three different programs available to students: electrical, mechanical, and general engineering. The university is hopeful to begin enrollment in the fall of 2025 for the first class of students.