Dr. John E. Visser

John E. Visser12th President of Kansas State Teachers College from 1967 to 1985


Dr. John Evert Visser served as the president of Kansas State Teachers College, now Emporia State University, for more than 17 years. He was born April 24, 1920, in Orange City, Iowa. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, a Master of Arts degree and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and an honorary doctoral degree from Universidad Industrial de Santandar in Bucaramunga, Columbia, in 1968. He received and honorary doctoral degree from Hope College in 1995.

He was an Army officer in the infantry during World War II, having served in Europe from 1944 to 1946. He had received a Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge, and ETO Ribbon with two battle stars. He held the rank of captain when he was discharged. He was inducted into the Infantry Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame in Fort Benning, Ga., in 1982.

He was an assistant professor of history at Hope College from 1949 to 1957 and served as dean of men in 1955-56. He held administrative positions at Western Michigan University and Grand Rapids Junior College in Michigan until 1962. He was executive assistant to the president and a professor of history at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., from 1962 to 1967. In 1967, he accepted the presidency at KSTC.

During Visser's administration, he established the faculty and student senates and placed a strong emphasis on open communication between students and the administration. In addition, he organized the school into separate academic schools with departments and divisions within each. He also obtained funding for the Education-Psychology building, which is now named in his honor.

The most significant change occurred in April 1977, when KSTC was granted university status and was renamed Emporia State University.

Visser left Emporia State University in 1984 and became an advisor to the Alaska university system. He was vice chancellor at the University of Alaska at Anchorage and was interim chancellor at the University of Alaska at Juneau. He was vice chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay in 1988.