In memoriam: ASU alum George “Jim” Geiser
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering alumnus was an advocate for military veterans and ASU engineering education
George J. “Jim” Geiser, a prominent alumnus of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, U.S. military veteran and longtime civil engineer, is being celebrated and remembered on the anniversary of his passing on August 30, 2022.
Geiser, a member of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, part of the Fulton Schools, graduated from the civil engineering program in 1977 and spent 30 years as a Professional Engineer. He provided water resource engineering and forensic civil engineering services to a variety of clients for Prelude Engineering Consultant Services in Phoenix, Arizona.
Geiser’s legacy of service will live on through the students and faculty he built relationships with and the Amy Geiser and Kent Geiser Honorary Scholarship in the Fulton Schools.
Geiser would often be seen spending time with students, engaging them in discussion and helping them to think about their next steps and opportunities. His passion for supporting the university’s programs, student experiences and the greater community is remembered, appreciated and will be missed.
Building an ASU civil engineering legacy
Throughout his career, Geiser was heavily involved in supporting the ASU civil engineering program, now part of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. He advanced the education of civil engineering students through his connections with industry professionals, establishing scholarship opportunities and cultivating educational experiences.
Geiser was a founding member of the Friends of Civil and Environmental Engineering, or FOCE2, an ASU committee of faculty and industry professionals who support educational programs for civil, environmental and sustainable engineering students.
Sandra Houston, an emeritus professor of civil engineering and founding member of FOCE2, says Geiser’s contributions were the foundation for FOCE2’s long-term success.
“He was instrumental in keeping things alive and helping us reach out to the consulting community,” Houston says. “He really helped break down that barrier for us.”
Chris Kmetty, a senior construction manager at Ardurra Engineering and member of FOCE2, says he was an asset to the team.
“He was a devoted member of the FOCE2 and really cared about preparing the next generation of engineers,” Kmetty says. “Jim worked with many students, always eager to assist with resume review and meeting students to help prepare them for entry into the workforce.”
In 2018, Geiser was inducted as a civil engineering distinguished alum, an honor reserved for a select group of alumni with outstanding careers and strong records of support for the school’s programs. Geiser was recognized for working with undergraduates through FOCE2 and establishing a scholarship for civil engineering undergraduate students.
Ram Pendyala, a professor of civil engineering and director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, says Geiser was a natural choice for the award.
“He has left a legacy of being an outstanding alum who generously gave his time, talent and treasure,” Pendyala says. “He was a humble and genuine individual who cared so much about the program and its students. His presence is deeply missed.”
Distinguished military service
Geiser served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 29 years, achieving the rank of major. He served in two campaigns abroad with Marine Corps Reserve members from Phoenix and Tucson.
Geiser supported communities in Arizona with his time and funding through Junior Achievement, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona and Young Marines programs. He was an active member of Scottsdale Bible Church, where he taught Sunday school and volunteered in the safety and security team, the divorce care team and the ministry.
Edward Kavazanjian, a Regents Professor of civil engineering, says Geiser consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to public service.
“I wish we had a dozen Jim Geisers,” Kavazanjian says.
Memorials for military veterans
Geiser supported the community of Phoenix-area military veterans on and off campus. He was a board member of the ASU Alumni Association’s Veterans chapter and the driving force behind the installation of the Memorial to Fallen Alumni at Memorial Union on the Tempe campus.
“It’s important that we as individuals share the legacy of those who came before us,” Geiser said in an interview with the Arizona Republic about the memorial.
Geiser also advocated and raised funds to build a memorial to fallen soldiers from Scottsdale and nearby Native American communities. As a result of his efforts, the Scottsdale Memorial for the Fallen now sits on Scottsdale City Hall’s Memorial Lawn.
The structure, which now also honors Geiser, was completed in December 2022, four months after his passing.