Ottawa University


Ottawa University (OU) is a private, non-profit, Christian liberal arts university with traditional, residential campuses in Ottawa, Kansas with a satellite campus in Surprise, Arizona. It was founded in 1865 and is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA. Ottawa has approximately 700 students on its residential campus in Ottawa, 500 on its residential campus in Surprise, and about 4,000 students across all of its campuses and online.

The origins of Ottawa University date back to the 1860s. During this time, Baptist missionaries had established the First Baptist Church in the area that would eventually develop into Ottawa, which at the time was occupied by Native Americans. Elsewhere, Kansas Baptists had managed to charter an institute of higher learning that they were planning on calling the “Roger Williams University”. In the early 1860s, they were looking for a place to establish it, and at the 1860 Baptist State Convention in Atchison, Kansas, Rev. John Tecumseh “Tauy” Jones made a case for the university coming to Ottawa; he proposed that the Baptists work with the Native Americans in the area, who had land that they might be willing to sell for the purpose of creating a college. After discussions with the Native Americans—who were amenable to the idea—it was agreed that 20,000 acres of land would be set aside for the express purpose of constructing a college. On August 20, 1862, the first board of trustees (made up of four Native Americans and two white Baptists) met and decided to purchase 5,000 acres of the aforementioned land so as to establish a campus. In 1865, the name “Roger Williams University” was decommissioned in favor of “Ottawa University”. Eventually, the campus was whittled down to about 640 acres.

The original campus is in Ottawa, Kansas and is referred to as OUKS.

A second residential campus opened in August 2017 in Surprise, Arizona, and is referred to OUAZ.

In addition to the residential college, OU has adult campuses in Overland Park, Kansas; Phoenix, Surprise and Queen Creek, Arizona; Brookfield, Wisconsin; and Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Ottawa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Its education programs in Kansas are accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Kansas State Department of Education.

Academic profile
Ottawa University offers bachelor’s degree programs in more than 25 disciplines. Current graduate program offerings include Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Arts in Education (MAEd), Master of Arts in Human Resources (MAHR), and Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC).

In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked the school as the 3rd-highest regional private college in Kansas; the site also ranked Ottawa University as 42 out of 150 in a ranking of Midwest Regional Colleges.

Research and cultural resources
Department of Church Relations
The Department of Church Relations maintains the university’s long-standing relationship with the clergy and churches within the American Baptist Churches USA. Church Relations also works to recruit students from American Baptist Churches across the country.

Forensics, music, drama and other events
Ottawa University is the Alpha Chapter of Pi Kappa Delta,[8] the national speech and debate honorary. In 1913, Ottawa became the founding member and continues to invest in forensic activities over 100 years later.

The Music and Drama Departments offer productions for the community and serve as host for community related events.

OUKS teams are known as the Braves. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and competes in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC). The school provides eleven intercollegiate sports for men, ten intercollegiate sports for women, and a varied intramural programs.[9] Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling, while women’s sports include basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, track & field, tennis, volleyball, and wrestling.

OUAZ teams are known as the Spirit. They are also a member of the NAIA and most of the athletic programs compete in the Golden State Athletics Conference (GSAC); football will compete in the Sooner Athletic Conference. Men’s sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. Women’s sports include basketball, beach volleyball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

Student life
Ottawa views attending college as an “opportunity to interact with people, learn new skills and discover new talents”.[10] The campus in Ottawa offers over 30 student groups, clubs and organizations, including the oldest student-run newspaper in Kansas, The Campus. The school offers drama, music, honor societies, campus ministry opportunities, and other activities.

The campus in Surprise offers music ensembles, academic and professional clubs, campus ministries, and club teams such as bowling, lacrosse and outdoor adventures.

Notable alumni

  • Wayne Angell, former Federal Reserve governor, Kansas State Representative and Bear Stearns chief economist
  • Mitch Barnhart, Athletic Director, University of Kentucky
  • Leonard Erickson, researcher of DNA repair
  • Howard K. Gloyd, herpetologist, credited with describing several new species of reptiles
  • Robin Harris, comedian
  • Kevin Honeycutt, creator of “Artsnacks” learning community and international keynote speaker
  • Timon Marshall, Arena Football League player
  • Merritt C. Mechem, territorial Supreme Court justice and one-term Republican governor of New Mexico
  • Dorothy C. Stratton, director of the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARS) during World War II
  • Derrick Ward, National Football League (played football for Ottawa University for one semester, and did not graduate from this institution)


Former names Roger Williams University
Motto Veritas vos liberabit
Motto in English The Truth Will Set You Free
Type Private
Established 1865
Endowment $14.3 million (2016)
Location Ottawa, Kansas, U.S.
38.602589°N 95.265542°WCoordinates: 38.602589°N 95.265542°W
Colors Black and Gold
Nickname Braves
Sporting affiliations NAIA – KCAC
Phone Number +1 800-755-5200