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OUAZ Earns Colleges of Distinction Designation for 2021-22


Ottawa University-Arizona (OUAZ) has earned the prestigious designation as a national College of Distinction for 2021-22, the second consecutive year it has been honored as such. OUAZ is the only higher education institution in the state of Arizona to meet the rigorous standards required to be named a Colleges of Distinction cohort school.

Colleges of Distinction’s longstanding support for student-centered schools highlight those that traditional rankings often overlook. Founder Wes Creel created Colleges of Distinction to draw more attention to schools like OUAZ, whose student-centered education prevails in applying theory to practice, while fostering a dynamic learning community.

“Every student has their own unique set of abilities, their own goals, and their own ideal settings in which they would thrive,” said Creel. “That’s why we don’t rank our schools. It’s about finding the best opportunities for each individual’s needs and desires. Ottawa University-Arizona’s inclusion is informed by the unique ways it commits to achieving success. It’s inspiring to see OUAZ’s commitment to the learning styles,  and community involvement that will best allow their students to succeed in and beyond their college years.”

The Colleges of Distinction selection process consists of detailed interviews and research for each institution’s freshman experience and retention efforts alongside its general education programs, career development, strategic plan, student satisfaction, and more. Schools are accepted on the basis that they adhere to the Four Distinctions: Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community, and Successful Outcomes. This differs from other popular college rankings systems that, according to Creel and his colleagues, rely on non-student-centric related metrics, such as peer reputation, endowment size and alumni salaries.

OUAZ’s designation was borne out of its blend of liberal arts education, program-specific training and abundant student-centered programs, including flex-term scheduling, personal growth days, first-year seminars, service-learning programs, intensive writing courses, interdisciplinary programs, collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate research, capstone projects, study abroad programs career development and placement services and internships. This ensures that OUAZ students graduate equipped to find better solutions in the workplace, their community and the world at large.

“Ottawa University is extremely honored to have once again met the rigorous standards set forth by the Colleges of Distinction program,” said Dr. Terry Haines, university provost and chief academic officer. “Aligning with the University’s missions and values, this recognition for the delivery of a well-rounded liberal arts education to our students is a testament to the excellence of our students, faculty, staff and administrators. We are proud to be among the elite group of colleges and universities nationwide to receive this designation.”

As part of its 2021-22 designation, OUAZ also received two programmatic “Field of Study” distinctions for its Angell Snyder School of Business and its School of Education. Visit Ottawa’s profile at to learn more about the honor and the innovative learning experiences the university offers.


About Ottawa University

Founded in 1865, Ottawa University prepares professional and liberal arts graduates for lifetimes of personal significance, vocational fulfillment and service to God and humanity as a Christ-inspired community of grace and opening inquiry. Ottawa University is a comprehensive, not-for-profit educational institution, serving more than 4,000 students through its residential campuses in Ottawa, Kan., and Surprise, Ariz., and adult campuses in Overland Park, Kan.; Phoenix and Queen Creek, Ariz.; Brookfield, Wis.; and online. Visit for more information.

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