John S. Kyser

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John Schenebly Kyser
President of Northwestern State University
In office
May 15, 1954 – 1966
Succeeded by Arnold R. Kilpatrick
Personal details
Born (1900-09-08)September 8, 1900
El Paso, Woodford County
Illinois, United States
Died July 14, 1975(1975-07-14) (aged 74)
Caddo Parish, Louisiana
Resting place Memory Lawn Cemetery in Natchitoches, Louisiana
Spouse(s) Thelma Zelenka Kyser (married 1924-1975, his death)
Children Janet Kyser ___
Residence Natchitoches, Louisiana
Alma mater

University of Michigan
University of Chicago University of California, Berkeley
University of Heidelberg

Louisiana State University
Occupation President, Northwestern State University;
John S. Kyser Hall at Northwestern State University houses a variety of academic programs, including history, mathematics, and journalism.

John Schenebly Kyser (September 8, 1900 – July 14, 1975)[1] was an American historian and geographer who served as the president of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, from 1954-1966.[2]


Kyser was born in El Paso, a small city in Woodford County in north central Illinois. His parents were John Hamilton Kyser and the former Elizabeth Schuman. He was educated in Illinois public schools and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1921 from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Michigan. He obtained further education at the University of Chicago, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany, before receiving his Ph.D. in 1937 from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. His doctoral dissertation is entitled "The Evolution of Louisiana Parishes in Relation to Growth and Distribution in Population."[3]

From 1921-1923, Kyser served a year each on the faculty of LSU and Tulane University in New Orleans.[3]

Northwestern State University[edit]

In 1923, he came to Northwestern State, then known as Louisiana Normal College, a teachers' institution. He headed the Department of Social Sciences from 1924 until May 15, 1954,[4] at which time he was elevated to the presidency of the institution, then known as Northwestern State College.[3] Along with several other four-year institutions in the state, NSU was elevated to university status in 1970, when Kyser's successor, Arnold R. Kilpatrick, was serving as the NSU president.[5]

In 1935, Kyser organized and developed the first statewide field study-tours with college credit. He was a pioneer of audio-visual education and was instrumental in the development of first closed-circuit television instruction program in Louisiana.[3] Kyser also launched the first graduate program in any four-year state institution of higher education below the level of LSU. Such programs are now widespread.[3]

Kyser was the chairman of the Geography Section of the Southwestern Social Sciences Association. He was a president of the North Louisiana Historical Association[3] and in 1960 headed the Louisiana Historical Association. [6]

Family, death, legacy[edit]

On September 8, 1924, Kyser married the former Thelma Zelenka (1898–1998) of Houma, the seat of Terrebonne Parish in south Louisiana. She was a daughter of Dr. Rudolph Louis Zelenka and the former Eva Bazet. The couple had one child, Janet (born 1929).[3] Thelma Kyser died ten days before her 100th birthday.[1]

Kyser died in Shreveport, Louisiana. He is interred beside his wife at Memory Lawn Cemetery in Natchitoches.[7] His papers are located at the Eugene P. Watson Memorial Library on the NSU campus. A tribute to Kyser is found in a 1975 issue of North Louisiana History.[8]

Kyser Hall, which houses the department of history at NSU, is named in his honor.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  2. ^ Who's Who in American Education, XXI (1963-1964)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Kyser, John S.". Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography ( Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  4. ^ Minden Press, Minden, Louisiana, January 4, 1960, p. 1
  5. ^ "Northwestern State University: History". Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Presidents of the Louisiana Historical Association". Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  7. ^ Shreveport Times, Alexandria Daily Town Talk, July 16, 1975
  8. ^ "In Memoriam: John S. Kyser," North Louisiana History, then known as the Journal of the North Louisiana Historical Association, VII, No. 1 (1975), p. 26
Preceded by
President of Northwestern State University

John Schenebly Kyser

Succeeded by
Arnold R. Kilpatrick
Preceded by
Kenneth Trist Urqhart
President of the Louisiana Historical Association

John Schenebly Kyser

Succeeded by
Joseph G. Tregle, Jr.