January 6, 2021 – Executive search firm EFL Associates has been selected to find the next president and CEO for Ottawa University (OU), a private Baptist university based in Ottawa, KS. Steve Waldron, the recruitment firm’s managing director—legal practice and higher education practice, is leading the assignment.
“We have been most fortunate to benefit from Kevin Eichner’s leadership over these past 12 years,” said Lucky DeFries, chairman of the board of trustees. “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.”
“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 he or she take over this growing and increasingly complex institution,” Mr. Eichner said. Once the new executive is in place, Mr. 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.
EFL Associates 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 during the next few months.
According to the Surprise Independent newspaper in Arizona, the goal is to name Mr. Eichner’s successor by mid- to late-spring, and to have the new person in position by July 1, at which time he or she will assume the chief executive level responsibility for the university as a whole.
Required Skills and Qualifications
The successful candidate will be expected to have a proven track record of leadership and management effectiveness, preferably from within Christian, liberal arts higher education institutions. According to EFL Associates, the new president and CEO “must be committed to holistic student development and have a vibrant Christian faith with a true appreciation for Ottawa’s open, welcoming and inclusive guiding principles, commitment to diversity, and the development of high impact graduates who make a difference wherever they live and serve. He or she will be adept at building rich and transformational relationships with students, parents, faculty, staff, administration, trustees and external constituencies.”
Candidates should also have significant understanding of private college leadership in the principal areas of academics, athletics, admissions, student affairs, personal fundraising and budget management, specifically within a private liberal arts residential college serving a very diverse student population and many first generation students. In addition, the candidate must demonstrate a keen understanding of the multi-faceted demands of the academic enterprise at the collegiate level, including the financial demands and limitations necessary to ensure that Ottawa University maintains financial stability and the ability to invest in itself through effective revenue and expense management.
Ottawa University is an institution with a 155-year heritage of educating adults and students of traditional ages for lifetimes of faith, service, leadership and significance. In addition to the main campus in Kansas, Ottawa University has a residential campus in Surprise, AZ and adult campuses in several locations around the country. From its founding in 1865 in Ottawa, KS, the university has grown to an institution today that serves nearly 5,000 students through its residential campuses, adult and graduate studies campuses and online.
Founded in 1978, EFL Associates provides executive search services from offices in Kansas City, Denver, St. Louis and Raleigh, NC. The firm specializes in the following areas: finance and banking, higher education, non-profit, life sciences, energy, construction and engineering, consumer packaged goods, manufacturing, public pension organizations, chief financial officers and board services.
Mr. Waldron has nearly 35 years of leadership, organizational structure, strategic planning and litigation experience in the practice of law, higher education and the U.S. Marines. This combination of knowledge and personal understanding gives him a unique perspective on talent.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media