Ottawa University is opening a 35-acre residential campus in Surprise this fall, complete with dorms and 19 varsity men’s and women’s sports teams.
Kevin Eichner, president of Ottawa University, said he has been exploring the idea of a residential campus since 2010. “In 2011, we came very close to doing a deal, and then we had to move onto a couple of other cities, and now we’re back here with Surprise,” he said. He said he’s been working with Surprise leadership for nearly two years.
Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott said the city’s investment is mainly in providing an existing infrastructure.
“We came up with a plan on how we should share our resources, share our amenities, share our recreational campus,” she said. “It’s like having a university campus without the college here.”
The new school will be next to the Surprise City Hall and the Surprise Recreational Complex, which will be used by the university’s athletics department that will work toward a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics designation.
If such a designation were approved, Ottawa would be one of only four NAIA programs in Arizona. The school mascot is a grey wolf and the sports teams are called the Spirit.
“We’ve already hired 24 coaches and leaders,” Eichner said.
In addition, plans call for hiring 12 more faculty to augment the existing faculty, he said.
Ottawa University has had a presence in the Phoenix area for 40 years, providing education for working adults.
“We have 8,300 alumni who live here in the Valley of the Sun,” Eichner said.
Wolcott said the residential campus will spur economic development downtown.
“We already have a substantial amount of the Valley’s workforce living here in the West Valley,” she said. “This is one of few options for a private university to offer an education to students in the West Valley — anywhere in the Valley.”
Plans call for opening the university this fall with 250 students, growing to 3,000 residential students over 10 years.
Source: The Business Journals