COVID-19 Updates • Strategic Planning
Poston Named Director of Bowling Operations06/06/2022
Ottawa University President and CEO Dr. Bill Tsutsui is proud to announce that Geoff Poston has been named as the University Director of Bowling Operations.
OTTAWA, Kan. – Ottawa University President and CEO Dr. Bill Tsutsui is proud to announce that Geoff Poston has been named as the University Director of Bowling Operations. In this newly created, unique role, Poston will assist both the campus in Ottawa, Kan., as well as the residential campus in Surprise, Ariz. (OUAZ) to grow not just the individual teams but the sport as a whole.
“This position will leverage Geoff Poston’s proven talents as a coach, recruiter, and program-builder,” Tsutsui said. “Geoff will bring the skills he has honed with the outstanding Braves varsity bowling team to the growing club team at OUAZ. As we seek innovative ways to build collaborations and better serve students across our campuses and programs, the creation of the University Director of Bowling Operations is an important step forward for the entire institution.”
Poston is entering his sixth year as the head coach for men’s and women’s bowling at Ottawa University. Both teams are nationally ranked and have qualified for the NAIA National Championship Tournament each of the last two seasons.
Focused on the student-athlete, the Braves teams’ graduation and retention rates are high, with many student-athletes entering a graduate program after completion of their undergraduate degree. Since the bowling program began in 2017, no student-athletes have transferred to bowl for another school.
"I am excited for this opportunity as the University Director of Bowling Operations over both residential campuses, said Poston. “I remain committed to growing our nationally ranked men’s and women’s programs as the Head Coach here in Kansas, while assisting OUAZ Head Coach Jen Bullard with recruiting, fundraising and mentoring the OUAZ student-athletes down in Arizona. In addition, I have worked with our colleagues at MOTIV and secured a bowling ball contract for the OUAZ team. I look forward to having an impact in the growth of the sport and providing more opportunities for students to bowl at the collegiate level."
With Poston at the helm, the Braves bowling team qualified for the NAIA National Tournament in 2020, upsetting the no. 1 seed Midland University to earn the trip. The 2017-18 team won its first tournament championship and had eight top 15 finishing, including a 14th place finish at the Intercollegiate Team Sectional Championship.
Poston has been involved in bowling for more than 35 years and coaching for more than 20 years. He has also spent time on the PBA Regional Tour, winning the Gardner Master’s Floor Covering Championship in 1999. From 2011 to 2015, he was President of the Kansas Bowling Coaches Association. Poston was named to the 2019 Kansas State USBC Hall of Fame and the 2018 USBC Kaw Valley Topeka Bowling Association Hall of Fame.
Wynndee Lee ’89 Hired as Director of Major Gifts12/08/2021
Ottawa University is pleased to announce the hiring of Wynndee Lee ’89 as the Director of Major Gifts for the Office of University Advancement. Lee will begin her duties on January 3, 2022.
Ottawa, Kan. (Dec. 8, 2021) – Ottawa University is pleased to announce the hiring of Wynndee Lee ’89 as the Director of Major Gifts for the Office of University Advancement. Lee will begin her duties on January 3, 2022.
“I have loved working for the city and community, but the opportunity to work for another love of mine, Ottawa University, could not be any more perfect for my post public service life,” said Lee.
In her new role, Lee will develop and implement strategies to identify, cultivate and solicit new major gifts prospects for the University. In addition, she will manage the existing portfolio of nearly 100 major gift prospects. Lee will be taking a leave of absence from her position as Life Trustee on the OU Board of Trustees while employed by the University.
“We could not be more excited to welcome Wynndee to the Ottawa University Advancement team,” said Janet Peters, Vice President for Advancement. “She has so many OU connections and relationships, a strong work ethic and an amazing positive attitude. She will be able to hit the ground running to help Ottawa University raise funds for several important projects and to build relationships with even more alumni.”
Lee has spent the past 19 years with the City of Ottawa, most recently as the Director of Community Development where she oversaw planning, zoning, subdivision codes and economic development negotiations for the city. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from OU in 1989 and a Master in Public Administration from the University of Kansas in 1997.
“The City is appreciative of Wynndee’s many of years of service to our community,” said Richard Nienstedt, City Manager of the City of Ottawa. “We are a better community because of Wynndee’s leadership and passion for especially quality of life improvement. Not only is Wynndee a friend but she is also a consummate public professional, and I will miss the day-to-day interaction of working with her. I am pleased that she is excited with taking the next step in her life at Ottawa University. OU will be served very well and I look forward to working with Wynndee in her new capacity.”
Surprise's Secret with growing OUAZ08/25/2021
Phoenix area cities have long sought to grow 4-year universities. What has been Surprise, AZ's secret with the growing Ottawa University?
azcentral new article link
OUAZ Earns Colleges of Distinction Designation for 2021-2207/09/2021
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.
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 www.collegesofdistinction.com/school/ottawa-university-arizona/ to learn more about the honor and the innovative learning experiences the university offers.
University Earns Military Friendly Distinction06/30/2021
Ottawa University is pleased to announce that it has been designated a 2021-22 Military Friendly School by Viqtory Media, the leader in connecting the military and civilian worlds.
Ottawa University is pleased to announce that it has been designated a 2021-22 Military Friendly School by Viqtory Media, the leader in connecting the military and civilian worlds. Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,200 schools participated in the 2021-2022 survey with OU being one of the 747 earning the designation, the sixth year overall it has received the honor. Ottawa was also named a Military Friendly Spouse School for the second-consecutive year.
“We are proud to serve the men and women of our armed forces,” said University Provost Dr. Terry Haines. “Ottawa University has numerous graduates currently serving in the military and military personnel studying in our diverse array of programs. We are honored to be a university of choice for active duty and veterans. It’s a special relationship we will always sustain and hold in the highest regard.”
Now in its 12th year, the Military Friendly Schools designation and list by Viqtory Media recognizes those higher education institutions with leading programs for veterans, members of the Armed Forces leaving military service and military spouses. The Military Friendly Schools rating program has been instrumental in the development of college military recruiting programs.
Colleges and universities competed for the designation by completing an extensive survey covering 10 indicators of success including support for student veterans on campus, graduation and employment outcomes and military spouse policies. Methodology, criteria, and weightings are set forth by Viqtory with input from the Military Friendly Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher education and military recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey response set and government/agency public data sources, within a logic-based scoring assessment.
“Military Friendly is committed to transparency and providing consistent data driven standards in our designation process,” said Kayla Lopez, national director of military partnerships. “This creates a competitive atmosphere that encourages colleges and universities to consistently evolve and invest in their programs. Schools who achieve designation show true commitment and dedication in their efforts. Our standards assist schools by providing a benchmark that promotes positive educational outcomes, resources, and support services that better the educational landscape and provide opportunity for the Military Community.”
OU will be showcased along with other 2021 Military Friendly Schools in the annual Guide to Military Friendly Schools, the special education issues of G.I. Jobs and Military Spouse Magazine, and on militaryfriendly.com. For more information about Ottawa University’s commitment to supporting military students, visit www.militaryfriendly.com/ottawa-university/.
OUAZ 2021 National Champions in Cheer05/02/2021
The OUAZ cheer team win national title in its first-ever trip to the United Cheer Association college nationals.
The OUAZ cheer team entered the United Cheer Association College Nationals for the first time ever, and took home a national championship in its first appearance. The cheer squad were awarded first place in the open, small co-ed division, a division that features the best cheer groups from NCAA Division III, Junior College and the NAIA.
OUAZ's Dance Team also participated in the United Dance Association College Nationals, placing third in the Open Division Gameday category. The team finished less than five points behind both the champion and runner-up, and clinched third place by 0.300 over CSU-Dominguez Hills.
The awards mark the second time this Spring both Cheer and Dance have won championships. At the end of March, Dance won three championships at the USA Collegiate Nationals, and Cheer put on an excellent showing that helped build to its most recent title.
From the Team
Freshman cheerleader Jacob Flores: "I will never forget how special this year was. We all have put literal blood, sweat and tears into this season. So many countless hours put into this routine and to see it pay off with a UCA title with people you love is such an incredible feeling. I cannot wait for next year."
Senior dancer Maggie Lewis: "Doing another virtual competition was a little hard to accept since it was my last competition, but to get third place in our first time at UDA was totally worth it."
Junior cheerleader Bridget Gastineau: "It was not easy preparing four our first ever UCA Nationals competition. We spent numerous hours in the gym working to perfect our routine. As a team, we are so proud of everything we were able to accomplish with all of the obstacles that came with this year. While filming our routines, we were all able to come together as a team and give our best effort to hit a zero deduction routine. That is exactly what we were able to accomplish. I am so proud to be a member of this program and to be able to continue to make history over and over again. Competing at UCA was a dream in itself, but being able to call ourselves National Champions at UCA is so incredible."
Sophomore cheerleader Jada Jordan: "We worked diligently throughout the season overcoming so many obstacles that were thrown our way, and it has truly paid off. It means so much to the team and I that we were able to get this opportunity, and I am so greatful to have been a part of this season.
Head Coach Kari Kratchman: "It is with great honor to be able to celebrate our cheerleaders and dancers. They were able to find great success at the UCA and UDA College Nationals. The natty grind is a real thing, and to compete this year was an incredible accomplishment in itself. We are humbled by our win for our Cheer team and our top three finish for our Dance team. I am so proud of all our athletes, and blessed to see their hard work pay off. I am even more proud of our coaching staff and the support they provided for our athletes, on and off the mat. I look forward to what next year has in store for us."
Assistant Coach Bethann Meza: "I am beyond proud of our athletes for the dedication, drive and humility they have showing during preparation and execution of this year's competition season. It is with such a grateful heart I congratulate our 2020-2021 dancers as they rightfully earned third place at UDA Nationals this year. I am so blessed and honored to be leading a team of such incredible dancers both on and off the dance floor. I am so excited for what the future holds and I have no doubt our dance team will continue to succeed and persevere."
Dr. Tsutsui to Lead OU as President/CEO04/30/2021
The Ottawa University Board of Trustees announced today that Dr. William Tsutsui [soot-SUE-ee] has been selected to serve as University President and CEO, effective July 1.
Ottawa University Board of Trustees Chairman Lucky DeFries announced today that Dr. William M. (Bill) Tsutsui [soot-SUE-ee] has been selected to serve as University President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective July 1, 2021. Dr. Tsutsui will succeed Chancellor Kevin C. Eichner, who will continue to serve the university as Chancellor Emeritus through his contract period ending June 30, 2022.
The board announced in January that it had hired the firm of EFL Associates to conduct a nationwide executive search, orchestrating a carefully planned succession process a full year before Eichner’s official retirement. The goal is to ensure that the new university president will benefit from Eichner’s years of experience, contacts, and continued engagement in ongoing strategic initiatives.
“We have been most fortunate to benefit from Kevin’s leadership, and First Lady Marylin’s grace and hospitality, over these past 13 years,” DeFries said. “This has been a period of unprecedented growth and progress at our university. Therefore, in searching for Kevin’s eventual successor, the board set its search parameters at a very high level. Our comprehensive, nationwide search attracted significant interest from a diverse group of impressive candidates. We were very gratified at the quality of the talent, experience, and the enthusiasm of those who applied. After careful deliberation, the board agreed that Dr. Tsutsui represented the best fit for ensuring the continued momentum of the university. We’re delighted to welcome Dr. Tsutsui as Ottawa’s new University President and CEO, and his spouse, Dr. Marjorie Swann, to the life of our institution.”
Chancellor Eichner said he is proud to welcome Drs. Tsutsui and Swann to the university.
“Ottawa University is a very special place, and Marylin and I have been greatly blessed by the opportunity to help shape the future of our alma mater over these past years,” Chancellor Eichner said. “On behalf of the entire Ottawa University family, we extend our warmest welcome to Bill and Marjorie. We have no doubt that they will come to internalize what we call the ‘OU Spirit’ and that they will make many significant contributions to the experience of our students, staff, faculty and alumni, as well as the communities in which we operate. Bill and Marjorie understand completely our mission and core values and have a great appreciation for the transformative power of the type of higher education OU has been providing for more than 156 years.”
Born in New York City, Dr. Tsutsui grew up in Bryan, Texas, the only child of parents who were educators at Texas A&M University. Inspired by their example, he pursued his own studies at Harvard, Oxford and Princeton universities. Dr. Tsutsui earned his undergraduate A.B. degree in East Asian Studies summa cum laude from Harvard in 1985. In 1988, Oxford University’s Corpus Christi College, where he was a Marshall Scholar, awarded him a Master of Letters (M.Litt.) in Modern Japanese History. Dr. Tsutsui earned his M.A in 1990 and Ph.D. in history in 1995 from Princeton.
He has received Fulbright, ACLS, and Marshall fellowships, and was awarded the John Whitney Hall Prize of the Association for Asian Studies in 2000 and the William Rockhill Nelson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2005. He currently serves on the boards of directors of the Association for Asian Studies, the US-Japan Council, and the Federation of State Humanities Councils, and was appointed to the Japan-United States Friendship Commission in 2020.
As a scholar and administrative leader, he has held a number of key positions. Most recently, he has been serving on sabbatical as the Edwin O. Reischauer Distinguished Visiting Professor at Harvard University. Prior to that, from 2015 to 2019, Dr. Tsutsui was president and professor of history at Hendrix College, a top-tier national liberal arts college founded in 1876, located in Conway, Ark. During Dr. Tsutsui’s tenure, Hendrix was re-accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) for 10 years, and he oversaw a comprehensive strategic plan resulting in significantly increased access, diversity, and affordability initiatives. An accomplished fundraiser, he led Hendrix’ largest and most successful capital campaign of more than $100 million and he personally shepherded several campus improvement projects, including the Dawkins Welcome Center, Miller Creative Quad and Windgate Museum of Art.
Prior to Hendrix, Dr. Tsutsui served from 2010 to 2014 as dean of the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences at Southern Methodist University, where he further honed his skills as a collaborative executive and fundraiser. Before SMU, Dr. Tsutsui spent 17 years at the University of Kansas, where he served as Acting Director of KU’s Center for East Asian Studies, Chair of the Department of History, founding Executive Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Kansas, and Associate Dean for International Studies in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Dr. Tsutsui is the author or editor of eight books, including Manufacturing Ideology: Scientific Management in Twentieth-Century Japan, Banking Policy in Japan, and Japanese Popular Culture and Globalization. His 2004 book Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters was called a “cult classic” by the New York Times.
He has been married for 31 years to Dr. Marjorie Swann, a professor of English at Hendrix College and an expert on seventeenth-century British literature. Dr. Swann has her own impressive resume, having received her B.A. in English from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and her M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Oxford University, where she and Bill met. Dr. Swann has taught at Princeton, the University of North Texas, the University of Kansas, and at Hendrix and was also the Director of the Museum Studies Program at KU. Together, Bill and Marjorie have long enjoyed collecting and researching the history of American regional art, and have published four essays on the development of the visual arts in Kansas and throughout the Great Plains.
Regarding Kansas, Bill and Marjorie are no strangers to the Sunflower State. During the time he spent at KU, Dr. Tsutsui became familiar with Ottawa University, Ottawa, Kan., and Franklin County. He said he could not be more excited or prouder to be returning to northeast Kansas, and to have the opportunity to lead such a consistently progressive and highly respected institution of higher learning. Dr. Tsutsui is equally excited to participate in, and further advance, the ongoing development of the university’s new campus in Surprise, Ariz., which he describes as a sort of “educational miracle rising from the desert” of the West Valley of Phoenix, and to engage deeply with one of Ottawa’s true strategic gems, its adult and online educational programs and related sites in Phoenix, Overland Park, Kansas, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“I am honored, humbled and absolutely thrilled to be selected as Ottawa University’s President and CEO,” Dr. Tsutsui said. “Under Chancellor Eichner’s strategic leadership, Ottawa University has emerged as one of the great success stories in twenty-first century American higher education. At a time when many private colleges have struggled, Ottawa University has distinguished itself as far-sighted and entrepreneurial, pioneering a diversified business model that has retained the historic mission of the institution, while expanding incrementally into new markets and reaching out to new learners. I have come to deeply respect Ottawa as a university not afraid to embrace change and be bold in its vision, even as it has upheld its values of integrity and accessibility, its heritage of quality, and its deep Christian roots. Marjorie and I are excited to immerse ourselves in the extended OU community, and I look forward to working with trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alums to further elevate Ottawa University and the impact of the life-changing education that it offers.”
Dr. Tsutsui will assume the chief executive level responsibility for Ottawa’s comprehensive university system on July 1 of this year. The Chancellor’s Cabinet, consisting of the two residential campus presidents located in Ottawa, Kan. and Surprise, Ariz., the EVP and CFO, the EVP for OU Online, the University Provost and Chief Academic Officer, and the VP’s of Advancement, will report to Dr. Tsutsui at that time. As has been the case for the Eichners, Dr. Tsutsui will be expected to maintain a strong personal presence in both Kansas and Arizona, but will take up residence initially at Granger House in Ottawa.
DeFries said the board determined that Dr. Tsutsui's clear strategic vision and in-depth appreciation for Ottawa’s diversified business and academic model stood out. The search committee and the board also took special note of his illustrious academic credentials, personal warmth and empathy, passion for educating students from diverse backgrounds in a Christ-inspired community of grace, his creativity, seasoned leadership experience, strong fundraising record and sense of humor.
“Bill brings with him not only a deep understanding of higher education, but also after having served as a professor, dean and university president, he manifests a strong appreciation of how to manage and lead complex organizations through the inevitable changes that are facing all institutions of higher learning today,” DeFries said. “He is a seasoned and respected scholar, author, educator, historian, and a consummate leader in higher education with a record of innovation.”
Drs. Tsutsui and Swann are expected to move to Granger House in late June or early July. Dr. Tsutsui is already beginning his onboarding process with Chancellor Eichner’s guidance, and Dr. Swann is exploring how she might best continue her teaching and academic career at Ottawa as both begin their transitions. The university community is delighted to welcome both.
Click here for Dr. Tsutsui's official university bio.
OUAZ 2021 National Champions in Beach Volleyball04/18/2021
The OUAZ Spirit beach volleyball team beat Vanguard to capture its second-straight AVCA Small College National Championship.
After losing three consecutive duals to conference rival Vanguard this season, OUAZ beach volleyball took down the Lions when it mattered most, as the Spirit claimed back-to-back AVCA Small College National Championship on Saturday. It was a defense of the title OUAZ won in 2019, and with the tournament being canceled last year, the Spirit had to wait to get back to the pinnacle.
OUAZ started the day with a big semifinal win over Corban University, with the Spirit advancing to the championship in a 3-0 dual win. The dual finished early due to the Spirit clinching after three match wins, and none of the matchups went more than two sets.
When the Spirit won its first national championship, they took on Vanguard, defeating the Lions 4-1. The two programs met again for the title for the second straight tournament, and VU had won the previous three duals.
Each of the first three duals between the Spirit and the Lions this season had 3-2 finals, and Saturday was no different. The two teams battled as the afternoon rolled on, and the Spirit pulled through to stay champions.
Two duals went to three sets, with the two teams splitting the full-length decisions. Isabel Mason and Noel Chavarria won a three set decision, and it was the match that clinched the championship for the Spirit.
OUAZ stayed perfect all-time at the AVCA Small College Beach Championship, and finished the season winning eight of its final nine duals.
New OUAZ Vice President for Advancement07/01/2020
Todd Simpson joins OUAZ team as vice president for advancement, bringing more than 30 years of experience to his new position.
Ottawa University Arizona is pleased to announce the hiring of Todd Simpson as OUAZ's vice president for advancement. Simpson has worked in non-profit management and fundraising for more than 30 years.
After a short assignment with Missouri Western State University as Vice President for University Advancement and Executive Director of the MWSU Foundation, where he was instrumental in securing millions in foundation funding to shore-up the institution, in 2020 Simpson joined Ottawa University (OUAZ) as Vice President for Advancement at the Surprise, Arizona, campus. In additional to serving as part of the leadership team at OUAZ, Todd oversees alumni relations, community development, corporate relations and all fund development activities.
Prior, Simpson served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Peru State College Foundation (2010 to 2019) where he ushered in a new era of foundation support and alumni engagement. Annual giving doubled under Simpson’s leadership and identified estate gifts topped $20 million. In addition, Simpson guided the Foundation through three capital campaigns to help fund the Oak Bowl Football Stadium renovation, the new campus entrance project and the renovation of the college’s performing arts center.
Earlier in his career, Simpson worked as a consultant and as the Director of Development for the Omaha Home for Boys (1995 to 2010). At OHB he was responsible for the entire development effort for the organization, including major gifts, planned gifts, capital campaign fund raising, mailing 5 million direct response solicitations each year and the management of a database of more than 1 million records. In the early 1990s, Simpson worked for the Boston-based direct response firm Amergent, overseeing the direct marketing efforts of more than 30 clients ranging from educational foundations to religious organizations.
Simpson holds the Certified Fund Raising Executive credential (CFRE), a certificate of completion from the National Planned Giving Institute, a certificate in fundraising management from the University of Nebraska - Omaha, a certificate in grant writing from The Grantsmanship Center, and a certificate in non-profit leadership and management from the University of Wisconsin. He is a member and past president of both the Association of Fundraising Professionals - Nebraska Chapter and the Charitable Gift Planners of Nebraska.
Simpson is a regular speaker on fundraising and organizational leadership topics and has presented for organizations such as the University of Nebraska - Omaha, the Planned Giving Council of Northeast Florida, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the National Fellowship of Child Care Executives, the Omaha Postal Customer Council, the Lincoln Postal Customer Council, the Scottish Rite Leadership Institute and the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands, among others. For nine years Simpson taught a course on direct marketing and database management as part of the University of Nebraska - Omaha's Certificate in Fund Raising Management program.
Simpson has engaged in extensive volunteer work on leadership development with college students and has served as a volunteer with both the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA.
Simpson holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Central Missouri, a Graduate Certificate of Achievement in Organizational Development from Peru State College and a Master of Science in Organizational Management (MSOM) from Peru State College.
OUAZ Spirit Life Focused on Personal Growth05/21/2019
The new residential college campus, rising up from the dirt in the Valley of the Sun, is steadfast in setting itself apart from the competition.
Just two years old and rapidly growing, Ottawa University-Arizona (OUAZ) is unique in many ways. The new residential college campus, rising up from the dirt in the Valley of the Sun, is steadfast in setting itself apart from the competition, while holding strong to the mission and values of its 154-year-old founding institution in northeast Kansas.
If you ask what makes OUAZ different, you will likely get a very similar response. Whether its students, staff, faculty or administrators, one consistent answer is that the hallmark of OUAZ is without a doubt its Personal Growth Days, or PGD’s, which occur each Wednesday. Paramount to OUAZ’s faithful pursuit to develop the “whole person” in its students, PGD’s replace Wednesday classes with a chapel service, food and fellowship and workshops teaching real-world skills.
The idea of PGD’s can be traced back to Ottawa University Chancellor Kevin Eichner, who as a former public company CEO and entrepreneur, witnessed that otherwise well-educated employees lacked even some of the most basic business and life-survival skills, such as public speaking, coaching others, critical thinking, team building and many others.
“When we envisioned how to make OUAZ very special, and how to make it even more impactful as a place where our students could prepare for their own personal lives of significance, the idea of our Personal Growth Days was one of the first to be enthusiastically endorsed in building our programming here,” Eichner said. “Not only would this become a valued and special part of our students’ experience, we also believed it would set OUAZ apart from our many competitors.”
There are three distinct components to each PGD – the “Spirit Life” chapel service, “The Gathering” fellowship luncheon and the “Life Skills” workshops. PGD Wednesdays begin at 10:30 a.m. with the campus community joining together for worship with energizing praise music and a dynamic guest speaker. This is followed by a catered outside luncheon with everybody gathering together to mingle and network. Finally, afternoons feature 90-minute life-skills workshops.
“Our PGD’s help build a sense of community,” OUAZ President Dr. Dennis Tyner said. “We all attend and participate in a variety of different ways, and we’re all growing together as we aspire to achieve lives of significance.”
Specifically relating to how PGD’s impact the student experience, Tyner said they are a value-added benefit they would not get anywhere else but OUAZ.
“Quite simply, with the workshops our students are gaining work experience and world experience in areas that are not standard topics covered in the curriculum of their academic majors,” Tyner said. “And with Spirt Life, they are hearing guest speakers on a weekly basis who deliver a dynamic message that resonates and inspires them.”
Dr. David Barnes, executive director of advancement, church and alumni relations at OUAZ, said that PGD’s prepare OUAZ graduates for life and work in ways not provided at other institutions. He said on top of the multiple benefits of the workshops, the “Spirit Life” event is transformational in other ways.
“By the grace of God, Spirit Life started and has sustained at a very high level,” Barnes said. “Its purpose is to proclaim our Christian foundations and to bring words of truth and encouragement to the OUAZ family. Occasionally, we will have a speaker whose purpose is to speak on a special topic or world events or simply to entertain. I love Spirit Life and how the Lord has blessed it. I love seeing and hearing our students worshipping and being encouraged each week.”
To make PGD’s possible, Tyner chairs a committee that works to coordinate, plan and schedule each week’s activities. Committee members and their specific responsibilities are: Barnes, “Spirit Life” chapel service; Dr. Lena Rodriguez, dean of the University’s School of Business, workshop content and delivery; and Carrie Philippon, director of student life, workshop administration and logistics.
With PGD’s, OUAZ is empowering students from every background to become whole individuals intellectually, spiritually, physically, artistically, financially and vocationally. In doing so, OUAZ students can lead lives of stronger personal faith, balance and joy, while growing intellectually and in preparing for leadership in a global economy.
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