John Keeny

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John Ephraim Keeny
6th President of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana
In office
Preceded by C.E. Byrd
Succeeded by John R. Conniff
Personal details
Born (1860-12-24)December 24, 1860
Cumberland County
Pennsylvania, USA
Died October 1, 1939(1939-10-01) (aged 78)
Pineville, Rapides Parish
Spouse(s) Prudence Keeny (married 1885)

Pearl Keeny ___

Roy Keeny

Partial listing:
Newton, Kansas
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Natchitoches, Louisiana
Ruston, Louisiana

Alexandria, Louisiana
Alma mater

Shippensburg University
Juniata College

Ohio Northern University
Occupation College president; Educator
Renovated over the years, Keeny Hall, in colonial style, is the administrative center of Louisiana Tech University.

John Ephraim Keeny, known as J. E. Keeny (December 24, 1860 – October 1, 1939), was a pioneer educator who served from 1908 to 1926 as the sixth president of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana.


Keeny was born in Carlisle in Cumberland County in south central Pennsylvania to J. G. Keeny and the former Lyndia Sollenbarger, He was reared and educated in his early years in Boiling Springs, also in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He attended Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, then known as State Normal College, located in Shippensburg near the capital city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He also for a time attended the Brethren's Normal College for Teacher Training, since known as Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Keeny also attended Ohio Northern University, now a United Methodist institution in Ada, Ohio, where he studied music. His biographical sketch does not list the degrees earned or the dates, only the institutions attended.[1][2]

In 1885, Keeny married Prudence Keedy [3] of Maryland. They had two children, Pearl (born 1887) and Roy (born 1889). In 1886, Keeny operated a mercantile store in Newton in Harvey County in central Kansas. He then sold school supplies in Illinois.[1]

Louisiana educator[edit]

Between 1889 and 1900, Keeny was the principal of schools in Lake Charles, Monroe, and New Iberia, Louisiana. It is unclear what prompted his relocation from Illinois to Louisiana. As a principal, Keeny conducted in-service programs in an effort to improve the skills of teachers. Keeny and the Louisiana historian Henry E. Chambers of New Orleans[4] were promoters of the traveling Chautauqua, based in upstate New York.[1] Another Chautauqua booster in Louisiana was Thomas Duckett Boyd, the president of Louisiana State University from 1896 to 1926.[5]

In 1900, Keeny was appointed to the faculty of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, but his biographical sketch does not give his field of specialization. In 1904, he was appointed to a state position to promote the improvement of qualifications for Louisiana teachers.,[1] an issue also important to Boyd, who was the NSU president from 1888 to 1896[5] In 1908, he succeeded C. E. Byrd as the president of Louisiana Industrial Institute, which had been established in 1894 in Ruston. It was renamed in 1921 as Louisiana Polytechnic Institute and in 1970 as the current Louisiana Tech University. Keeny improved standards for the institution, which he served until 1926, when he became president of Baptist Hospital (later Rapides General Hospital) in Alexandria, Louisiana. In his last years, he sustained business reverses. In 1938, he was named president emeritus of Louisiana Tech.[1]

Death and legacy[edit]

Keeny died in Pineville in Rapides Parish across the Red River from Alexandria.[1] Keeny Hall, the administration building for Louisiana Tech, is named in his honor.[1] It was formerly called Leche Hall but renamed for Keeny because of scandals in the administration of its previous namesake, Governor Richard Leche. The administration building was completed during the term of president Edwin Sanders "E. S." Richardson.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Keeny, John Ephraim". Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography ( Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  2. ^ A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography bases this article on Rodney Cline, Builders of Louisiana Education (1963).
  3. ^ It is unclear if Mrs. Keeny's maiden name was "Keedy" or if "Keedy" is misspelled here, probably the latter. If so, the maiden name is not given.
  4. ^ "Biography of Henry Edward Chambers". Archived from the original on July 28, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b John F. Ohles, ed. (1978). Biographical Dictionary of American Educators, Vol. I. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishers. p. 156. ISBN 0-8371-9893-3. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
Preceded by
C.E. Byrd
6th President of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana

John Ephraim Keeny

Succeeded by
John R. Conniff