PH.D. President • York College • Jamaica, N.Y.
Marcia Keizs has been surrounded by educators, family members and nonfamily members alike since she was a child in her native Jamaica. “They set me in good stead in terms of inspiration and reality. They required a lot of discipline in thinking and behavior…. Upon reflection, I came to value that,” she says.
Today, she is responsible for developing the mission and vision of York College, the City University of New York institution over which she presides. Currently, she is focused on growing student enrollment, increasing student retention, improving the effectiveness of the school’s internal systems and increasing support for the school by building relationships with alumni and corporations.
In her two years as president of York, Keizs is most proud of the change she and her staff have brought about in how the school is perceived. Where York in the past often was mistaken for a community college, it now is widely seen as the baccalaureate degree-granting institution it always was.
Keizs earned her own bachelor’s degree from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, master’s and doctoral degrees in education from Columbia University’s Teachers College and a certificate in educational management from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. She began her career as a teacher, but attributes her being fired from an assistant professor position at Queensborough Community College, because of the city’s fiscal crisis, as the catalyst for her successful career in administration.
“Had I not been fired, I may have stayed a teacher and not even considered coming into administration,” says Keizs. In addition to numerous senior administrative positions at various colleges in the CUNY system, she has been very active in the community. She is the founding editor of The New York Carib News and is board chair of the Morris Heights Health Center.
Keizs has given a wealth of advice to her students over the years. “Nothing can replace good discipline,” she says. “At some point, your preparedness and the preparedness of the world will coincide and bingo! You’re an overnight success.”