Growing Ottawa University’s residential campus in Ottawa is a priority for Kevin Eichner.

Eichner, longtime OU president, was named to the new position of University chancellor as part of the Board of Trustees’ move to restructure the University’s leadership model, according to a news release issued Monday.

A search is underway to find a new residential campus president, who reports to Eichner, but will solely focus on the Ottawa residential campus, which has been a strong and vital base for the University for more than 153 years, the release said. The University in the past year added a second residential campus in Surprise, Arizona.

Ottawa contracted the services of EFL Associates, an executive search firm from Kansas City, Missouri, to direct the search for the new president, the release said.

“The big driver for this is to further strengthen [the Ottawa] campus and grow it to its true full potential,” Eichner said. “The second thing is by hiring a president there and a president [in Arizona], plus Paul Bean, myself and Terry Haines, [we] will have fundraising responsibilities. Now we will have five or six senior people that will have fundraising responsibilities. That will strengthen the whole University in that regard as well.”

Haines, who has been the Ottawa campus provost for the past five years, will step into a new role as University provost and chief academic officer.

Lucky DeFries, chairman of the board of trustees, said the timing was right to make these administrative changes.

“We have been blessed by Kevin’s leadership and that of this excellent team,” DeFries said. “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.”

Eichner, who recently completed his 10th year as University president, will sign a four-year contract as chancellor and continue as the chief executive of the institution, the release said. He will increase efforts in fundraising, strategic institutional development, community relations, and continued implementation of the vision and mission of OU. His time will be divided between Ottawa and Surprise residential campuses, while also overseeing the management of the adult education sites located in Phoenix and Queen Creek, Arizona, Overland Park, Brookfield, Wisconsin, and Jeffersonville, Indiana. Eichner will maintain an office at both residential campuses, he said.

“It opens up an opportunity to bring in a real president for the Ottawa campus.” Eichner said. “That is something we are excited about doing. We run a university system now with two residential campuses, our adult campuses in Wisconsin, Phoenix, Kansas City and on top of that an online division. It is a comprehensive university system now. It requires a different kind of leadership model. It is a step forward for the University. I am excited about it. I am particularly excited about what I think can happen in Ottawa. That is a major reason for us to make this move. With Dr. Haines deciding he wanted to go back to full-time academic affairs, that opens up that position. When we looked at the whole picture, we really thought this was the best way to go.”

Eichner, an Ottawa alum, said the Ottawa campus is a special place.

“That is our home base,” Eichner said. “That is where I graduated [from]. That is where we lived. The whole idea there is we have our highest enrollment since 1975 [with more than 700 students this past fall]. We think we have more potential than that. I would like to see us get up to at least 850 or 900 students there, maybe even 1,000. The largest enrollment we have ever had there was my freshman year in 1969 with 1,065. We are doing a lot of the right things. Having somebody who is totally dedicated to that campus can’t do anything but help it.”

Eichner said the selection process will include input from several groups.

“We will have an internal search committee that will consist of trustees, faculty, staff and students,” he said. “We will do it the right way. Hopefully somebody will find that Ottawa University — particularly the Ottawa campus — will be a great place for them to continue their career.”