Ottawa University Announces New Leadership Structure

Posted by Janae Melvin on April 26, 2018 in Even at the age of 153, Ottawa University is not slowing down. The opening of a residential campus in Surprise, AZ, the growth of the international EMBA program and the continued reversal of trends in the adult market have all aided in the ongoing expansion of the University.

With growth, comes change. And at OU, that has resulted in some exciting internal leadership changes that will ensure the University continues to be well-positioned to manage increased growth and complexity.

In early February, the Board of Trustees announced that current President Kevin Eichner would be assuming the title of Chancellor at Ottawa University. Continuing as OU’s Chief Executive Officer, Eichner will be increasing his engagement in major fundraising efforts, strategic institutional development, community relations, and continued implementation of the vision and mission of OU. He will divide his time between offices at both the Ottawa and the Surprise residential campuses, while also overseeing the management of the adult education sites located in Phoenix and Queen Creek, AZ, Overland Park, KS, Brookfield, WI, and Jeffersonville, IN.

“I am completing the 10-year commitment I made to the Board when Marylin and I came in 2008,” said Eichner. “As a result, the Board and I have been deliberating on a new employment contract while simultaneously beginning to think about ultimate succession planning upon my retirement at some indeterminate point in the future. It happens also that this comes at a time of great change and major progress at our University with the birth of our new residential campus in Surprise. Thus, the Board has invited me to join with them in discussions about what sort of leadership model might be appropriate for the comprehensive institution we have created.”

With the announcement came news that a nationwide search was underway to find a new president for the Ottawa residential campus who would report to Eichner. This new president would be solely focused on the residential campus.

Additional changes are coming to The College at the administration level. For several years, Dr. Terry Haines, University Provost and Chief Academic Officer, has also managed OUKS in addition to his other duties. Haines has signaled his desire to primarily refocus his energy and experience on meeting the University-wide academic leads, which he will do once a new OUKS campus president is in place. Haines will then move into a role where he will continue as University Provost and Chief Academic Officer, but also work to develop a robust and effective grant writing department and fundraising efforts for all three of the University’s academic school needs.

The timing of Haines’ decision coincided with the Boards decision to offer Eichner a new contract and to extend his tenure.

“We have been blessed by Kevin’s leadership and that of this excellent team,” said Lucky DeFries, Chairman of the Ottawa University Board of Trustees. “Now, with a new campus in Arizona and the desire of the current Provost at the Ottawa campus, Dr. Terry Haines, to focus his energy and considerable intellect on the overall academic affairs of the University as University Provost and Chief Academic Officer, we felt this was the ideal time to open the door to recruit a full time, dedicated leader for the Ottawa campus while allowing Kevin to spend more of his time and energy on major institutional development, strategic initiatives such as our Surprise campus, and to further lay the foundation for OU’s future.”

Under Eichner’s 10 years of leadership, the University experienced significant growth, both physically and financially. With his guidance, the most successful capital campaign in University history resulted in the financing and construction of Gangwish Library and Gibson Student Center, which opened in 2015 during OU’s Sesquicentennial celebration. In early 2017, the University announced plans for the new residential campus in Surprise, which subsequently opened with 434 students in Fall 2017, nearly double what was expected to enroll. In Ottawa, more than 700 students are on campus, the largest number in more than 40 years, and recently, the University announced a $6 million gift, the largest in University history.

“I am excited about these changes,” Eichner said. “I am particularly excited about what can and will happen in Ottawa for that campus as the community at large. This is a step forward for the University and will help us grow to our full potential and beyond.”