Ottawa University is a jewel hiding in plain sight, some scholars might say.
Terry Haines wants to illuminate the institution of higher learning for those who have yet to discover its educational riches, he said.
“I think there are many opportunities for us to communicate to the world that you have an absolute diamond here in Ottawa,” Haines, who is entering his eighth year as one of the university’s top administrators, said. “We have thousands of friends and alumni across the country and the world, and we need to work on leveraging that to get the word out that there is something special here in Ottawa, Kan. I think we have only just begun to do that.”
On Tuesday, Haines succeeded Dennis Tyner as provost of the university’s residential campus, 1001 S. Cedar St., Ottawa, while retaining his responsibilities as the greater university’s provost and chief academic officer. After nearly seven years as vice president and provost of OU’s residential campus in Ottawa, Tyner has accepted a new position as dean of health sciences at the university’s campus in Phoenix.
SETTING THE TABLE
When Kevin Eichner took over as Ottawa University president July 1, 2008, the college had a $5.5-million deficit.
“We found the mission statement was basically fine, but there was a lack of vision and morale was low,” Eichner, a 1973 graduate of OU, said in a February 2012 interview. Eichner said the university’s board set about changing that vision by establishing a 12-year strategic plan, called Vision 2020, divided into four, three-year phases, with a goal of growing the university through its seven campuses and adult education programs by 2020.
The university entered the second phase of its strategic plan in 2012 with a $3.7 million surplus.
“In just three years, the university’s revenues increased by 57 percent, and we now have the largest surplus in the 147-year history of the university,” Eichner, who came to the job with an extensive banking background, said in the 2012 interview.
The university’s enrollment also was at its highest point since fall 1975, Eichner said, touching more than 7,000 students throughout its network. Founded in 1865, Ottawa University is a not-for-profit educational institution with a residential campus in Ottawa; adult campuses in Overland Park, Arizona (Phoenix, Chandler and Surprise), Indiana (Jeffersonville) and Wisconsin (Brookfield and Oak Creek), as well as Ottawa Univeristy-Online.
OU officials were not content to hang their hats on the financial turnaround and enrollment growth achieved during the first three years of Vision 2020, Haines said. The 55-year-old academic guru with more than 30 years of higher education leadership thinks the university’s best days are ahead, he said.
“My anticipation is that we will grow, and that we will grow in a healthy way so that we don’t overextend ourselves, but at same time we will create some exciting opportunities for students who have yet to branch out and learn what the world has to offer,” Haines said.
Haines took off his jacket and sank into a comfortable-looking chair in Eichner’s office Wednesday afternoon on the second floor of Tauy Jones Hall on the OU campus.
The prodigy of a long bloodline of educators and men of Christ made it apparent through his disarming smile and infectious laugh why he was described as having a collaborative leadership style by the university’s president.
“Terry is fully committed to our mission and vision and is a completely student-centered educator,” Eichner said. “We are blessed to have someone of Terry’s experience, character, values, collaborative leadership style, intellect, and energy available from within our organization to fill this position. I trust him completely and have great confidence in his ability to work with our faculty and staff here in Ottawa to sustain and grow The College [OU residential campus] over the next several years.”
Haines’ leadership philosophy has been to seek input from people in different positions throughout the university, he said.
“I believe that we as a university are a community of learners, and that is central to who I am as a leader,” Haines said. “I seek the input and counsel of colleagues throughout the university.”
The faculty, administration, support staff and students are vital to the decision-making process, so there is a sense of shared responsibility as the university moves forward, Haines said, based on his experiences.
“I believe the best decisions are made at a university when there is guidance and input from the community that will be impacted by those decisions,” he said.
The son of missionary parents Paul and Florence Haines, the OU provost and chief academic officer was born in Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
“My father was a minister and seminary professor, and my mother was a nurse,” Haines said. “They served as missionaries for well over 55 years.”
His grandfather, Paul Ehret Haines, was a missionary in Asia in the early 1900s who also served as president of the Seoul Theological University seminary.
Haines came to America to attend college, he said. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Taylor University in Upland, Ind.
“I was prepared to teach English and math,” Haines said.
Haines’ brother, Lowell Haines, a vice president of Taylor University, encouraged him to pursue a career in education, he said.
“My brother, who is the constant encourager, encouraged me to very seriously consider going into higher education,” Haines said. “So I did, and I have loved every moment.”
Haines obtained his master’s degree from Ball State University, Muncie, Ind., and a doctorate degree from Penn State University, University Park, Pa. He attended Harvard University’s institute of educational management in 1996.
Haines possesses expertise in academics, student affairs, fundraising and athletics, Eichner said, adding that Haines has a successful track record as a senior college leader in a residential setting.
Before coming to Ottawa University eight years ago, Haines served as a dean at the University of Richmond, Richmond, Va., and as a vice president and dean of Huntingdon College, Montgomery, Ala.
“I came to Ottawa University as provost of the Kansas City campus, and then I was encouraged to take over all the adult sites,” Haines said. “When Dr. Eichner came [in as president in 2008], he asked me to be the chief academic officer for the [greater] university, and this is my fourth year serving in that role.”
Outside his academic life, Haines likes to play his guitar and enjoys folk music, he said. Haines and his wife, Mary, have two sons, Joshua, 17, and Caleb, 12.
“I am kept quite busy with their interests,” Haines said of his sons.
Mary Haines’ credentials include certified public accountant and master of business administration.
“Mary — she’s from the South, so when we get down into Alabama they call her Mary Jo — is an extraordinarily accomplished woman in her business background as well as her leadership in the church,” Haines said.
While enrollment was relatively flat this fall with 561 undergraduate and graduate full-time enrolled students at OU’s residential campus in Ottawa, university officials pointed out the persistence rate from spring to fall was 81 percent, well above the rate for most universities. Research seems to back those claims. A study of persistence trends at four-year public and private universities during a 20-year period from 1988 through 2007 showed the national average fluctuated between 73 and 74 percent, according to research conducted by the University of Indiana.
The persistence rate measures the number of returning students from semester to semester — not to be confused with a retention rate, which monitors the number of freshmen who re-enroll for their sophomore years.
While many schools have shown enrollment declines in recent years, Haines pointed out Ottawa’s enrollment has shown steady growth. The university’s enrollment has increased 60 percent since 2006, according to university reports.
The university’s financial turnaround during the first phase of Vision 2020 demonstrates Ottawa has weathered the economic downturn better than most universities, Haines said. Haines thinks the key to Ottawa University’s consistent growth has been its ability to keep its costs down while continuing to provide more support and services to its students, he said. The notion that a private education is not affordable in today’s economy is a myth, he said.
“I think some of these for-profit universities have created such a horrible track record in their lack of personal attention to the student and caring for the individual student that students have walked away with significant indebtedness and not a lot to show for it,” Haines said. “We have a significant amount of financial aid. I think sometimes the fear of debt has caused students to say, ‘Oh well, I can’t go to a private school,’ when in reality when they would apply and they would see their financial aid package, they would say, ‘My goodness, I can go to Ottawa University for a very easily afforded price.’”
Haines thinks one of the keys to continued growth at the Ottawa residential campus will be to continue building on its relationship with the community, he said.
“I think our relationship with the community is strong, and we value it deeply,” Haines said. “I hope that within the next several years, we will strengthen opportunities for students to engage the community.”
Haines hopes to accomplish this goal by looking for more job-shadowing, internship and practicum opportunities for students at area businesses and corporations and in the fields of human and health services, he said.
“That’s the first piece [to strengthening ties],” Haines said. “The second piece is that many of our students do volunteer work, and I want to accentuate that piece of what we do in the community. I also recognize there are a number of people in our community who can bring great things to our university, through adjunct roles, in lectures and opportunities for special programs.
“We want to continue to bring the community and university together for opportunities for students to engage, for opportunities for students to volunteer and for opportunities for the community to come in and teach us.”
The university plans to redouble its efforts to find these internship and job-shadowing opportunities for its students, whether that be in the Ottawa community, at locations across the country where some students return home for the summer break or providing opportunities for students to travel abroad, Haines said. The OU choir, for example, is scheduled to perform in Italy in 2014.
“In my life, having grown up overseas, I have a firm belief that when we step out beyond our normal world and learn about other cultures, we become better people and we become better citizens,” Haines said. “So I hope that OU can continue the kind of commitment that it has had for 150 years, but take it even further to help our students learn more about the world in which they live.”
As the new dean of health sciences, Tyner will play a critical role in the strategic growth of OU’s health sciences and health care programs, Haines said.
The University currently enrolls nearly 700 students in health care management, counseling and nursing, according to an OU news release. Under Tyner’s leadership, OU will explore “the feasibility of and develop a robust strategic plan for adding a School of Health Sciences to house these and future programs in a manner consistent with the school’s mission and vision,” the release said.
“We know that in the next 20 to 30 years, the field of health support and health systems will be exploding,” Haines said, because of population trends. “The heart of what we do is in the liberal arts — that is the foundation to all the professions, so that will be our cornerstone and the heart of our academic programs. We have a strong education program, a strong business program and a strong arts and sciences program, and we’re excited about the potential exploration that health sciences brings.”
The university is known for producing excellent educators, Haines said.
“One of our strongest programs is developing teachers, and I hope that will multiply several times over,” Haines said. “Our teachers are all over the country. We want to continue to provide great teachers.”
In his chief academic officer and provost roles, Haines said he is tasked with working with each area of the institution to address needs, ensure organization and provide strategic leadership that will allow the entire university to function well together.
“There is always a need for additional resources,” Haines said. “Our faculty is top notch, and they continue to need resources for their professional development and for their classroom instruction. This has been a decade of technological explosion, and we have made a commitment to developing the 21st century classroom. We want our students to be learning in a state-of-the-art environment.”
Those challenges come at a cost, Haines said.
“We are trying to always keep our tuition down but our academic programs up,” he said. “Our ideal is to meet our mission and to create a Christ-centered community of grace where we provide extraordinary value and exceptional education.”