Robert A. Reiser, associate dean for research and Robert M. Morgan Professor of Instructional Systems, will retire at the end of the year after 46 years of service to Florida State University.
Reiser began at Florida State in 1976 as a research associate in the Learning Systems Institute and an assistant professor in the College of Education.
“I was very fortunate to come here to Florida State,” Reiser said. “For many years, the Instructional Systems program at Florida State was considered the number one program in the country, and many of the biggest names in our field were here.”
In 1981, Reiser earned the Florida State University Developing Scholar Award, which is given to junior faculty who demonstrate evidence of productivity, high-quality research and creativity. This award would be the start of a long list of accolades that Reiser would receive during his 46-year service in the College of Education.
Over the next several years, Reiser earned the 1985-1986 Florida State University Teaching Award, the 1986 Presidential Award for Outstanding Service to the Division of Instructional Development (an award that he would earn several times over his career), the 1994 Research in Education Award and the 1999 Florida State University Professorial Excellence Award.
In April 2000, Reiser was awarded the Distinguished University Teacher Award — the highest teaching award at Florida State. He became the first faculty member in the College of Education to receive the award.
“You know, as an instructional designer, you want to be a good instructor,” Reiser said. “I taught some classes for 25 or 30 years, and my wife would see me late at night working on the lesson and she’d say ‘Bob, you’ve taught this class 30 times! What are you doing?’ And I’d say, ‘Oh, I could make it a little better.’ I never was quite satisfied.”
Reiser taught in the Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies Program for 34 years. After winning the Distinguished University Teacher Award, he developed a presentation entitled, “Planning Effective Instruction: One Professor’s Opinion,” which talks about the key principles that he followed during his teaching career. This presentation would go on to be shared across multiple universities and became a regular occurrence at FSU’s Program for Instructional Excellence (PIE) conference, an event held to orient and guide new teaching assistants and instructors at the university.
Reiser has written five books and more than 75 journal articles and book chapters in his field. “Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology,” which Reiser wrote with former student Jack Dempsey, spans four editions that were published between 2002 and 2018. The work has won several awards from major organizations, including the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) and the International Society for Performance Improvement.
Reiser also founded AECT’s Division for Design and Development (D&D) Awards Program within a decade of earning his doctorate. Reiser’s willingness to assist and motivation to tackle new challenges led to 25 years of successfully running the awards program, meeting new people and advancing the field, all at the same time. He also served for 25 years as an editorial board member for AECT’s Educational Technology Research and Development, a premier research journal in his field.
Reiser has enjoyed a long career of blazing the trail for future instructors and scholars. In 2010, he was offered the chance to lead the College of Education’s Office of Research as the associate dean for research, and he has been doing so up until now.
“I thought I’d do it for two or three years,” Reiser said. “I’ve done it for 11 years now, and I love it because I’m helping people again. I’m working with young faculty—as well as more senior faculty—helping them find grant opportunities, helping them prepare grant proposals, so it’s just been a delight. I have very much enjoyed working with the staff in this office and all the faculty who I have worked with, they are so wonderful. It’s been a true pleasure.”
Reiser, who has taught for over three decades, has seen many of his former students evolve into being colleagues and friends. Through enthusiasm and a strong work ethic, Reiser developed an impressive and caring community of students and colleagues over the course of his career.
“They’re almost like your second family,” Reiser said. “It’s like having another set of children. I can’t thank my current and former students and colleagues enough for making my career here at Florida State so wonderful.”
Reiser will be officially retired at the end of the Fall 2021 semester. He plans to spend his time in New York City—his home city—with his wife, three married children and six grandchildren.