OUAZ now has a president. In May, Chancellor Kevin Eichner announced that Dr. Dennis Tyner would be the first president of the University’s two-year-old residential campus in Surprise, Ariz. Tyner has led OUAZ as senior vice president and provost from its inception in February 2017. He will now lead the rapidly growing institution into the future.
“Dr. Tyner has done a tremendous job leading our new Surprise campus — and literally helping it rise out of the ground from day one — in his role as senior vice president and provost,” Eichner said. “He has provided superior leadership as our lead executive in the past two years, during which time enormous progress has been made in planting this new version of Ottawa University in the Valley of the Sun.”
Eichner hand selected Tyner in 2016 to lead the start-up and logistics for the new Arizona campus after his stalwart seven years of service as vice president and provost at the university’s main location in Kansas. The chancellor said that decision has paid off handsomely.
“He is completely devoted to the OU mission, and especially our students,” Eichner said. “He has worked tirelessly and passionately on behalf our institution. He is smart, dedicated, enjoyable, results-driven, academically rigorous, and is highly respected. Deploying him in this way is consistent with our philosophy of putting our key people in positions of their highest and best use, and he is most deserving of this new role.”
Tyner, who has been with the university for 13 years, has shepherded OUAZ’s evolution in its first 27 months of operation. It has been a time of tremendous growth both in enrollment from zero students to more than 800 students projected for fall 2019 and in campus infrastructure from 13 acres of undeveloped land to more than $50 million in new construction. Now, as OUAZ’s first president, he begins writing a new chapter in the emerging institution’s young history.
“I’m deeply honored to have been selected by Chancellor Eichner to serve as the first president of our OUAZ residential campus, and I’m excited about the continued growth opportunities,” Tyner said. “I’m grateful for the talented team of people we have on this campus, who I’ve been privileged to work with since arriving on the Surprise campus. I’m so proud of their accomplishments to date. Together, we have built a solid foundation that focuses on providing our students with a college experience that is second to none.”
With more than 30 years of experience in higher education, Tyner has a wealth of knowledge from time spent working in the areas of instruction, admissions, curriculum and program development, facilities operations, student activities and athletics. Prior to joining Ottawa University in 2007, he was dean of the David Crawford School of Engineering at Norwich University in Vermont. There, he helped to substantially increase the enrollment of undergraduate engineering students, was instrumental in the development of new undergraduate programs and established the school's first online graduate program.
As president of OUAZ, Tyner will work to make further strides in advancing the newest arm of Ottawa University to further its reach as a comprehensive educational institution.
“Dr. Tyner will personally oversee academic affairs for both Surprise and Phoenix,” Eichner said. “In addition, the Surprise athletic and student affairs areas will report up to him. He will continue to build and personally teach in the engineering and sciences areas, and will focus his fundraising activities in support of those. Finally, he will continue to be the major day-to-day liaison with the City of Surprise working closely with our partners there.”
The appointment of Tyner as president of OUAZ is the latest phase of a large-scale, university-wide restructuring strategy that commenced with the launch of the new Arizona campus, coupled with Eichner being named chancellor by the board of trustees after he had served for 10 years as president of Ottawa University in Kansas. The next stage involved the search for and selection of Dr. Reggies Wenyika as the new president of the Kansas residential campus. With Tyner now in place as president of OUAZ, the university’s new Chancellor/President leadership model is now solidified.
“I share the passion that Dr. Eichner and Dr. Wenyika have for higher education, and I’m especially inspired by the chancellor’s entrepreneurial foresight,” Tyner said. “His vision will serve as a catalyst for building an educational experience that will prepare OAUZ students for lifetimes of significance, vocational fulfillment and service to God and humanity.”
Tyner earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Northeastern University in Boston in 1985, 1986 and 1992, respectively. His primary research focused on applying digital communication methods in magnetic storage systems to increase the storage capacity of magnetic media. He published several articles on his research and presented his results at national and international conferences. Additionally, he has taught engineering students for more than 20 years at every institution for which he has served.
He and his wife, Patricia, relocated to Surprise, Ariz., in January 2017 after having lived in Ottawa, Kan., for several years. They have eight grown children, and a grandchild. His wife and five of their children are all graduates of Ottawa University, including his youngest, Keith, who just graduated in May 2019.