Beloved OU Leaders Retire

Posted by Paula Paine on June 4, 2014 in "Your OU" Donna.pngElaine-GeorgeDSCF0523-(Medium)-(2).jpgThey say things come in threes. In this case, we’re sad that they did. The end of the academic year saw three of Ottawa University’s beloved leaders transition into retirement – Dr. Donna Levene (21 years), Elaine George (14 years), and Dr. Kirk Wessel (4 years). The impact each made is incredibly large, and so is the gaping hole now left from their removed presence among us.Kirk2.png
Celebrations to honor the lives and contributions of Dr. Levene and Dr. Wessel have already taken place. Kirk had a quiet send-off from a number of his colleagues in Arizona, while Donna was honored during a dinner in Kansas City on May 30, with many of her current and retired colleagues attending to wish her well.
Elaine will be celebrated during an Open House on Thursday, June 19, from 5:00-7:00 pm, at the Brookfield, Wisconsin, campus, and is open to all current students, alumni, and faculty/staff.
As a fitting way to recognize each of these individuals for their service to Ottawa University, we share here some of the emails sent by their colleagues that so aptly express the thoughts of the University as a whole.
Dr. Donna Levene
Vice President of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs
Dear Colleagues and Friends:
Our good and long serving friend, Dr. Donna Levene, has announced that she will be retiring effective April 4, 2014.  This news was shared at our board of trustees meeting in Arizona, where Donna received a well-earned standing ovation from those in attendance.
2014-donna-levene-retirement-dinner043.jpgDonna has been with OU for 21 years, beginning as a faculty member in Kansas City.  She later succeeded Dr. Jim Billick as Campus Executive for Kansas City where she was instrumental in continuing that campus' growth and success.  Donna was then promoted to lead our Arizona sites where, under her leadership and guidance, Arizona reached all-time highs in enrollments and programmatic expansion. Most recently, Dr. Levene has served ably as our Vice President for Regulatory and Governmental Affairs at a time in higher education and in the life of our institution where her unique combination of legal training as an attorney and her higher educational experience have been instrumental in guiding us through the increasingly complex web of intersecting and sometimes competing state, federal, and HLC-related regulations and requirements.
A calming force possessing a prodigious intellect and a great heart for students, our mission, and the OU Spirit, Donna will be deeply missed.  She and her husband, Dean, will remain in Arizona and plan to travel and pursue a growing number of volunteer interests in their much-deserved retirement.  Ever mindful of the reasons she entered higher education in the first place, Donna has indicated a potential interest in returning to the classroom on occasion as an adjunct in her beloved field of Political Science.  I am hopeful our needs and her desires and schedule will coincide in that respect, as Donna is a true Ottawan and someone we all would like to keep close over the coming years.
Donna, I personally congratulate and salute you as you enter upon this new chapter in your life.  Deep-felt thanks for all you have done and continue to do for Ottawa University, and all of your friends and colleagues here wish you and Dean the very best that life yet has for you.
Kevin Eichner


Time has a way of slipping by quickly
Especially for friends and colleagues who come and who go.
But I find it hard to believe that it was clear back in 1993
When you and I first met and each other we got to know!
You were a young 'un, recently wed to Dean
With your future contributions to OU yet to be seen.
You settled in well to your role as advisor and teacher
In no time at all we knew you were a keeper!
Our fearless leader Jim left us to do something new
And into his role, you quickly grew.
Changes made with ever-present, legal pad in hand;
Not all may have been happy, but respected your stand.
Friends and colleagues were left behind in the Midwest
Off to the Valley of the they got your best.
First as Provost, then as a VP
Your talents existed for all of us to see.
Wading through regs on top of those pesky rules we must stay
Some mumbling and cursing...that darn HEOA.
Hard work and another successful accreditation review
Plenty of thanks we must offer to you.
Now is the time to relax and renew
With all of us here wishing you the fondest adieu.
And a special farewell to you coming from me
To keep in touch if you're ever in need of some bad poetry!
Karen Adams
University Registrar
Elaine George
Director of Business Programs, WI; Associate Professor of Business Administration
Elaine George, who has held roles at Ottawa University-Wisconsin as instructor, campus leader, faculty advisor, adjunct mentor, and director of business programs, along with many and varied university-wide roles, is retiring from Otta2013-wisconsin-commencement-21.jpgwa University as of June 30, 2014. Elaine’s presence, leadership, wisdom, and care will be sorely missed by many people at many different levels.
During her fourteen years at Ottawa University as a full-time faculty member, Elaine has distinguished herself in her academic leadership and in her care and attention to students. Whether in the classroom or in service to the university or larger community, Elaine lives the mission of Ottawa University. Through her deep care for students, her smile, and her commitment to excellence in teaching and learning, she has lived out the meaning of an education in a Christ-centered community of grace.
While the Ottawa community will miss all that Elaine brings, we celebrate her retirement with her and wish her well as she looks forward to volunteering, doing artwork, and the many other things that will fill her life.
Joyce Caldwell
Associate University Provost

Truly wishing you the very best of your retirement dreams. Those of us who have worked closely with you, even outside the B-school, understand what a loss your departure will mean to the university community. Your expertise, your leadership, your work ethic, and your kindness (and your incredible sense of organization!) will be very much missed. Selfishly, I am thinking about your role in the Assessment Collaborative which is so key to our future with HLC. It will be very hard to replace you there, as I am sure it will be in other areas. Again, all happiness to you and hope you will stay in touch and share your adventures and artwork with us. 

Jan Stone
Associate VP for Academic Assessment and Accreditation
Dr. Kirk Wessel
Dean, Angell Snyder School of Business
Dear Ottawa Community,

In his short tenure with Ottawa University, Dr. Wessel encouraged the faculty of the Angell-Snyder School of Business to not only think big, but to have the confidence to believe that we can do anything.  We still believe we can and we will.  The School advanced further in 2013-business-symposium24.jpgDr. Wessel’s time with us than anyone had a right to expect it would.  Dr. Wessel lives a life of significance in it truest sense.  He is not famous.  He does not draw attention to himself.  He simply leads.  He causes others to believe in themselves, in their team mates.  He creates the environment where innovation and creativity are the norm, where people truly do make silk purses out of sow’s ears.  When things go right, someone other than he gets the credit.  When things go awry, he takes the blame. 

Dr. Wessel leads from the front by example, but also from the rear with encouragement.  He doesn’t manage or supervise, he points out where we could be and says go there.  His job, as he sees it, is to take down the barriers that slow his “squadron” down.  He is the consummate leader.  We have missed him already, even though he has remained loyal, hardworking, energetic and true to his own definition of integrity since the day he resigned. He has stayed on for months, and never once did less than his very best in the service of this institution of ours.  He may not be one of a kind, but he is the best we at OU have seen and he will be hard to replace.  I know, I have served for months on the committee charged to do just that.
When I was told that he was acting Dean, I thought, “Great.  I need a military man to come into a collegial culture and provide us with drills and by-the-book-training.”  Oh, how wrong I was!  The man listened to us and then said, “Go make it happen.”
We were blessed to have him, but not so blessed to have been able to keep him.  I believe that for the rest of his life, he will support our institution and that he will be our ambassador wherever he goes.  I have missed him since the day of his resignation and cannot imagine how much I will miss him when he is truly gone. 
Tomorrow, Dr. Wessel speaks at the Commencement for my campus, OPO.  I expect to cry and I will not feel a single moment of shame or embarrassment.  He is worth tears.
Tom Edwards
Director of Business Programs - KC
Dear Colleagues:
We have been blessed to have Dr. Kirk Wessel with us for another year (after Kevin pulled him back to Ottawa and away from retirement last year).  I personally want to express to him my sincere appreciation for his pushing back retirement for another year to help Ottawa University through reaccreditation and the 2013/2014 academic year.  I thought it would be most appropriate for me to share with you the letter I sent out last year that reminds us of Kirk’s extraordinary service and exemplary contribution to our community. 
Godspeed my friend, and thank you for your leadership and legacy.
Dr. Terry Haines
University Provost
Dear OU Colleagues:
Dr. Kirk Wessel has notified me of his intent to step down as Dean of the Angell Snyder School of Business and to retire (effective May of 2013).  I am sad to see such a dear friend and extraordinary leader leave Ottawa University; however, I am pleased and excited that Kirk will now have the opportunity to pursue many of his personal interests through retirement.   Over the past few years, Dr. Wessel has provided extraordinary leadership at Ottawa University through his service as an OUAZ Program Director and as the Dean of Ottawa University’s Angell Snyder School of Business. 
Dr. Wessel first came to Ottawa University in the summer of 2010 as the Director of the undergraduate and graduate Business programs in Arizona, having recently served as the Management Chair and MBA Chair in the Gore School of Business at Westminster College in Salt Lake City (Utah).  In the fall of 2010, Dr. Wessel accepted the Acting Dean role of the School of Business and eventually was selected, in the Spring of 2011, as the full Dean of the Angell Snyder School of Business.  Dr. Wessel brought to Ottawa University more than thirty years of experience as an academic administrator, senior corporate executive, university professor, and senior naval officer, as well as extensive consulting experience in human resources, operations and board leadership (including non-profit organizations).  I am particularly pleased to mention that Dr. Wessel has agreed to continue his professional relationship with the University through future teaching assignments and other more informal opportunities, in the University’s pursuit of Vision 2020. 
During Dr. Wessel's highly effective tenure at Ottawa University, he led the successful national search for the Wayne Angell Chair of Economics, helped to develop the governance Charter for the School of Business, organized and founded the Business School Advisory Council, coordinated the development of the new Business Economics major, developed the strategic plan for a new Marketing major, coordinated the 2012 program assessment for the School of Business, initiated the ACBSP accreditation process for the Business School, completed the review and redrafting of business program learning outcomes, advanced professional development and support for faculty, originated the Angell Snyder Business Symposium Series, restructured and developed School business concentrations, led the graduate curriculum focus to a case-based teaching methodology, introduced the Owen Leadership Institute, designed the Angell Snyder School of Business Scholarship Program, and participated in the development of the "lead faculty" program.
Dr. Wessel has continually served as an example to students, faculty, and staff through his professionalism and academic leadership.  I know that I speak for my colleagues and many friends of the University when I say that Dr. Wessel’s outstanding leadership will be missed and that he leaves a legacy of dedication, accomplishment, and vision.  Kirk is eager for all to know that he has enjoyed his role with Ottawa and that this change is strictly a personal decision reached after careful consideration with his wife, Marilyn. They are simply ready to spend more time together enjoying their mountain retreat and life in general.
Please join me in thanking Dr. Kirk Wessel for his exceptional service and congratulating him as he transitions into this new phase of his life. 
Terry Haines
University Provost