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ISU names founding dean for new College of Engineering

Thomas Keyser

Illinois State University has picked the first head of its College of Engineering.

Thomas Keyser will become dean of the new college in April. He currently serves as dean of the College of Engineering, Technology, and Management at the Oregon Institute of Technology.

“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 ISU 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."

ISU has set its top goals for the new college as: workforce development, student success, and diversifying the engineering field. Also on Keyser's list is hiring department chairs, developing curriculum and facilities, connecting with industry partners, and recruiting faculty, staff, and students.

“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. “Starting a new college is a once-in-a- career opportunity. I am honored by president Kinzy’s and provost Tarhule’s confidence in me to serve as the founding dean of the College of Engineering.”

At the Oregon Institute of Technology, Keyser oversaw enrollment growth, and creation of new degree programs in renewable engineering and cybersecurity.

He also oversaw renovation of a 101,000-square-foot engineering laboratory building, design and construction of the 60,000-square-foot Center of Excellence in Engineering and Technology, and established a new research center.

“We are excited Dr. Keyser is joining Illinois State University as the founding dean of the College of Engineering. This unique and career-defining opportunity requires an exceptional leader, and we found those leadership qualities in Tom Keyser,” said ISU Provost Aondover Tarhule.

“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.”

The College of Engineering will include Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Departments with degree programs in electrical, mechanical, and general engineering. University officials are targeting fall 2025 for enrollment of the first class of students.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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