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Ottawa University begins search for new chancellor

The Herald Staff

Ottawa University is beginning a search for a new university president and CEO.

Lucky DeFries, Ottawa University Board of Trustees chairman, announced the school is searching for someone to succeed Kevin Eichner, the school's current chancellor, effective this summer.

“We have been most fortunate to benefit from Kevin’s leadership over these past 12 years,” DeFries said. “This has been a period of unprecedented growth and progress at OU. While Kevin’s contract runs through July 1 of 2022, the board is beginning the search and succession process a year earlier to ensure that the new president will benefit from Kevin’s years of experience, contacts, and continued engagement in strategic initiatives prior to his full retirement in 2022.” 

Eichner, who previously served on the board of trustees for 25 years, was named the 21st president of Ottawa University in March 2008. In early 2018, Eichner was named chancellor by the board to lay the foundation for campus presidents to be hired in Ottawa and Surprise. 

“Marylin and I have relished our work at Ottawa and prize our relationships with our board, staff, students, alumni, and donors,” Eichner said. “These are the people that bring the OU Spirit to life, and we look forward to introducing our successors to all that makes Ottawa University so special and the work of preparing students for lifetimes of personal significance so worthy. By starting this process now, the board and I believe we can achieve the smoothest possible transition of leadership and can give the new leader a running start as s/he take over this growing and increasingly complex institution.” 

The university has hired the search firm EFL Associates to conduct the search under the leadership of that firm’s principal, Stephen Waldron. The firm will be guided by a select Search Committee of the Board, including faculty, staff and alumni. Representative members of all key constituencies will eventually be engaged in the process of selecting Ottawa’s next chief executive over the next few months. 

The university's goal goal is to name Eichner’s successor by mid to late spring and to have the new person in position by July 1, at which time they will assume the chief executive level responsibility for the university as a whole. It is expected that the Chancellor’s Cabinet will report to the new university president and CEO at that time.

As has been the case for the Eichners, the new university president (and immediate family if appropriate) will be expected to maintain a strong personal presence in Kansas and Arizona. Once the new executive is in place, Eichner has agreed to continue his work on behalf of the university in a non-executive capacity and on a reduced time basis, through the full term of his contract at the end of June 2022, to shepherd fundraising, campus development, corporate partnerships and strategic capital initiatives currently underway, while helping to onboard and support the new president as he or she takes office.