Ottawa University Announces New Residential Campus in Surprise

Posted by Janae Melvin on February 17, 2017 in Arizona, Ottawa, Spirit, Surprise, University OU-1612-Spirit-Logo_PMS-Gradient.jpg

Expanding on more than 151 years of preparing students for lifetimes of significance, Ottawa University announced on Feb. 17, 2017, that it will be opening a brand new residential campus in Surprise, Ariz., beginning in the Fall of 2017.  This exciting new venture brings the number of Ottawa University campuses, both traditional and adult sites, to seven, but it represents only the second time in OU history that the university is launching a full fledged residential model.  As President Eichner recently quipped, “Our Board opens a new campus like this every 150 years!”
OU began operating in Arizona in 1977, offering degree programs to nontraditional students. Currently, students are served on campuses in Phoenix, Queen Creek and Surprise. To date, the Surprise location primarily focused on adult learners and will continue to do so with the addition of the traditional-aged student.  There are 8300 Ottawa University alumni now living in the Valley of the Sun, more than any other concentration of OU alums anywhere in the world.
The new campus, which will be known as OUAZ (Ottawa University Arizona) was dedicated during a ceremony with OU President Kevin Eichner, University executives, Board of Trustee members, the Mayor of the City of Surprise, Surprise City Council members, and the community.

“Ottawa University has expanded strategically during the last 151 years and we are poised for significant growth and exceptional student outcomes here in Surprise,” said Eichner. “This new campus fills a major void in the fifth largest market in America.  Currently, traditional age students in Arizona who want to play their sport, be involved as participants and leaders in other campus activities, and who want to do so in a Christ-inspired community of grace are forced with few exceptons to look outside the state.  In this sense, it is a very large and underserved market for the type of participant student OU expects to attract and serve.”

The City of Surprise was seeking a university partner to work with in an effort to deliver a four-year residential college to the community as part of their strategic economic development planning. The existing relationship between OU and the city made the partnership a natural one for both parties with both benefiting from the addition of new facilities, amenities and local teams to support.
Much as the university did over forty years ago when it pioneered a new form of adult education, OUAZ will provide an innovative and unique approach to the education of residential and commuting students of traditional college ages. The new campus will take advantage of the incredible existing amenities for recreation, learning, and experiential opportunities that already exist in Surprise and, more broadly, in the great state of Arizona. Thus, OUAZ students will benefit from incomparable access to some world class facilities at a fraction of the cost it would take to build them, helping to make this new campus an exceptional value for them and their parents. 

In addition, specialized programming will provide each OUAZ student with a success coach, multi-dimensional learning platforms designed for today’s tech savvy student types, and a brand of personalized education that goes well beyond the traditional classroom. A new FlexTerm academic calendar will enable students to learn how, when and where such learning suits them best as they can choose from courses that run for four weeks, eight weeks or in more traditional semester-length time frames. Finally, there will be a host of on and off-campus service and ministry based activities in which OUAZ students grow in their spiritual awareness and Christian enlightenment and to perfect their life skills for work after graduation.

“We are extremely grateful to our major donor whose generosity is making this new venture possible.  He and his family share our vision for delivering a new model for education with an emphasis on educating and developing the whole person, and creating work-ready graduates who are prepared to be successful on the job or in their professions from day one,” said Eichner, noting that in financial terms, the university would never have been otherwise able to launch such a new campus. Notably, because of this gift, no financial resources are being diverted from OU’s existing campus sites for the start up, including the College in Ottawa, which is enjoying its largest enrollment on campus since 1975.

Athletics will play a key role in helping the new campus to achieve a critical mass of students on campus. OUAZ will be home to 19 varsity men’s and women’s sports teams who will compete intercollegiately as The Spirit. The school has already hired a full complement of outstanding coaches and administrative personnel who are busy recruiting the inaugural class of students. These new students will play and cheer for the OUAZ Spirit and will enjoy interacting with the school’s mascot, the grey wolf. The expectation is that OUAZ athletic teams will play in the NAIA once the new campus clears the required probationary hurdles and also in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) assuming the university’s pending application is approved.  In addition, OUAZ is in consultation with three different athletic conferences for membership consideration.
OUAZ will be situated and built out over time on a 35-acre campus located within the City of Surprise Civic Center and Recreation campus, directly adjacent to the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, with plans for expansion of our own facilities that include the development of residential housing, an indoor and outdoor athletic center, dining and conference space and a stadium with artificial turf for football and soccer. The school has taken over the 27,000 square foot state of the art academic building known as the Communiveristy previously occupied by Rio Salado and the Maricopa Community College system. Ottawa has maintained a presence in that building since its opening in 2009 and is thrilled to be able to launch operations from such a fine facility. OUAZ looks to enroll approximately 250 students for the Fall 2017 term, additional students in the spring of 2018, and to complete its “rolling start” in the Fall of 2018 with an even larger student body. The university’s strategic plan calls for as many as 2,000 to 3,000 residential students over the next 10 years at this site.

For more information, please contact Janae Melvin at