O’Dell Family Leaves Lasting Legacy

Posted by Janae Melvin on April 26, 2018 in

In December, Ottawa University received an early Christmas present when it was announced that alumni Jim ’57 and Jeanne ’56 O’Dell would be donating $6 million to the University, the single largest gift in the school’s 153-year history. This extraordinary gift helps to fund the O’Dell Center for Athletics at the University’s newest residential campus in Surprise, AZ.

The University held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility on Feb. 16, nearly one year since the announcement was made that OU would be opening a new residential campus in Surprise.

“We are blessed now at this stage of our lives to be able to reap the rewards of our life’s work and to be able to share our good fortune with Ottawa University, an institution near and dear to our hearts. We are thrilled at the progress and impact for the future that our new campus in Surprise, Arizona, is delivering and very happy to be able to accelerate its development,” said Jim O’Dell.

The O’Dells spent the past 46 years building Valley Bank and Trust, a community bank in Brighton, CO. Their stewardship of the bank made it an attractive acquisition candidate operating in the Colorado markets and the family made the decision to sell the bank to a well-respected holding company based out of Dallas.

“Every once in a while, something really special enters into and informs the life of Ottawa University in such a way that it is a true game-changer,” said Kevin Eichner, OU Chancellor. “ The O’Dell’s have been strong supporters of our move for launching our new campus. From the beginning they saw the promise inherent in Surprise for Ottawa University’s institutional future.”

The O’Dell family gave the first $1 million gift in OU history in 2000 and chaired the Touch the Future Capital campaign that same year, consistently demonstrating their support of all aspects of the University.

“Jim and I have seen first-hand the vision of our current leadership team at OU and how this is translating into an exceptional experience for our students and staff in the Valley of the Sun. I am particularly impressed with the faith commitment and the academic programming there and so pleased that we can contribute to its ongoing success,” said Jeanne.

The O’Dell Center for Athletics is designed to house locker rooms, training facilities, coaches’ offices, and student support services. The center will be immediately adjacent to the new Spirit multi-sport athletic field and will include a new press box and entertainment area. The plans call for the facility to be open this fall, just in time for the start of the OUAZ’s second year of operations.

“Jim and Jeanne are thrilled to be able to share their great fortune with us,” said Eichner. “They have always been faithful and visionary with their giving, and this particular commitment on their part reflects their discernment and trust that their gift will be one that keeps on giving for many decades to come, affecting the quality of experience for our students, our coaches, our fans, and the image of our institution. Rarely have I seen such pure joy on the part of donors. They are special, and this is an especially sweet moment for them and us.”

The addition of the O’Dell Center for Athletics comes at an important time for the Surprise campus, as well as the University as a whole, as OU’s presence continues to grow in the West Valley of Phoenix.