Top of Page
Skip main navigation

Initial Spark

Abraham S. Fischler

Abraham S. Fischler was always a visionary, an innovator, and a risk taker.

After earning his doctorate from Columbia University Teachers College in 1959, Abraham S. Fischler began his career in academia first as Assistant Professor of Science Education at Harvard University, and then Professor of Education at the University of California at Berkeley, before joining Nova Southeastern University in 1966.

Recognizing that the educational system was failing about one third of the American population, Fischler promoted drastic changes in the way students learn. Rather than compete on the arbitrary playing field of time, he proposed that the curriculum be tailored to each student's individual needs, with content delivered in a manner and at a pace consistent with his or her learning style. In fact, he began the Abraham S. Fischler College of Education to fill an existing need in the community.

In the 1970s, the United States was becoming a place where women and minorities had an opportunity to break the barriers, to challenge previously conceived notions of place and propriety. These groups were beginning to attain principalships in big cities and were eager to get their doctorate degrees.

Fischler recalled, "[When I was earning my doctorate] I had to spend a full year on campus with my wife and 3 children living in small apartment because, back then, a full year of residency was required. But we couldn't ask [these new students] to give up a year because they had just gotten positions, so we created programs that would go to them, instead of asking them to leave their jobs."

So it happened that, in 1971, Nova Southeastern University developed and offered the first doctoral distance education program in the nation. This excursion into the realm of distance education was truly ahead of its time. Fischler's program was the forerunner of today's online education phenomenon, an instructional method now available at nearly every institution of higher learning.

Today, NSU remains a leader in distance education, offering programs online and via video conferences, at national and international instructional sites, and at the university's campuses in Florida. More than 9,000 students enroll in Abraham S. Fischler College of Education programs each year.

Abraham Fischler was named President Emeritus of Nova Southeastern University in 2005, and in that capacity he served on numerous community, education, and other boards, including the Broward Education Foundation on appointment by The School Board of Broward County. During his 22-year tenure as President of NSU, Dr. Fischler strove to constantly push the boundaries of traditional education methods and succeeded in centering the university around the needs of its students. Dr. Fischler continued to advocate for change and evolution in the American school system until his passing on April 3, 2017 at the age of 89.

Return to top of page