Ottawa University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Ottawa University
"Preparing diverse student populations for lives of enlightened faith, exemplary service, inspired leadership, and...

Ottawa University

Ottawa, Kansas

Preparing diverse student populations for lives of enlightened faith, exemplary service, inspired leadership, and personal significance—that is the vision of Ottawa University. Why? Because the administration and faculty at Ottawa University know that education doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Instead, students must learn to grow, care for, and balance all aspects of their lives (spiritual, professional, financial, relational, physical, etc.) in order to “prepare for a life of significance” that is both personally fulfilling and outwardly impactful. That’s why every student who enrolls at Ottawa University generates a “LifePlan” during their academic tenure to help guide them as they enter life beyond college.


The University’s vision grew directly from its mission: to provide the highest quality liberal arts and professional education in a caring, Christ-centered community of grace, which integrates faith, learning, and life. The University serves students of traditional age, adult learners, and organizations through undergraduate and graduate programs.


Ottawa University is student-centered, value-priced, and technology-enabled. From its founding in 1865 in Ottawa, Kansas, Ottawa University has grown to an institution that serves approximately 5,000 students through a residential campus in Ottawa, a new residential campus in Surprise, Arizona, burgeoning online programs, and adult and professional studies campuses in Phoenix, Milwaukee, Kansas City, and the Louisville/Jeffersonville areas.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
630 undergraduate students
97% of undergrad students are full time
60% male — 40% female
44% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
44 full-time faculty
3 part-time faculty
18 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

68% of students living on campus.

Students residing on campus have the option of living in traditional community or suite-style residence halls. Regardless of which option they select, students are engaged through regular hall programming to become engaged with other students, as well as learn more about various happenings on campus, activities in the area, and various educational programs.

All students are issued a Braves Card that provides entry into their residence hall, as well as includes pre-loaded Dining Dollars for use in the Dining Commons and Snack Bar. This card also can be loaded with Braves Cash which can be used to pay for on campus vending, laundry, print/copy services as well as bookstore purchases. In addition, this card can be used in the Snack Bar, even if you don’t have or are out of Dining Dollars.

From the comfort of their room, students have full access to wireless Internet and a host of amenities within the halls, including game rooms, laundry facilities, kitchen, lounges and more. There is always something fun taking place on campus—and with more than 30 clubs on campus it isn’t hard to find something you’ll enjoy!

Discover more about life on campus by visiting:

School Location

Ottawa, Kansas—28 miles south of Lawrence; 50 miles southwest of Kansas City

Retention Fall 2015

61% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full-time, first-time freshmen)

6-Year Graduation Rate 2015

47% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 1%
Hispanic/Latino 7%
Black or African American 11%
White 65%
American Indian or Alaska Native 6%
Asian 0%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 0%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 11%


Athletic Division: NAIA; Division II, Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC)

Varsity Athletic Teams: (21) Baseball, Basketball (men/women), Bowling (men/women), Cross Country (men/women), Football, Golf (men/women), Lacrosse (men/women), Softball, Soccer (men/women), Tennis (men/women), Track and Field (men/women), Volleyball, Wrestling (men/women), and intramural teams.

Team Name: Braves and Lady Braves
Mascot: Gibby the otter
Colors: Black and Gold (athletic gold)

other information

Founded in 1865 and affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA, Ottawa University is a 152-year, private liberal arts college.

Academic Programs

Accounting*, Art*, Biology*, Business Administration*, Business Economics, Engineering, Christian Studies and Ministry, Communication*, Elementary Education, English*, Exercise Science, History*, Human Services, Management of Information Systems, Marketing, Mathematics*,  Math Education, Music*, Physical Education*, Psychology, Sociology, Sport Studies, Theatre*

*Indicates teacher licensure programs available.

More Distinctions

  • Oldest student-run newspaper in the United States

  • Pioneer in adult education, starting with its Kansas City campus in 1974

  • Long-standing education agreement (and renewal/extension) with the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma

  • The American Baptist Home Mission Society granted President Kevin C. Eichner the 2013 Luther Wesley Smith Education Award for educational programs in a college or seminary

  • Longest continually accredited private institution west of the Mississippi river

  • Recognized as a military-friendly school

“How am I going to use this in the real world?” Ottawa University faculty delight in answering this common question and usually do so with long lists of opportunities that allow and require students to put their newfound skills to work.

In recent years, Ottawa students have been able to experience incredible opportunities across the globe. Through missional and charitable work, Ottawa University students are leaving their mark on the world.


When a F5 tornado destroyed the town of Greensburg, Kansas, Ottawa University students were on-hand to assist with recovery and rebuilding efforts. Students have traveled to Israel, Kenya, Australia, and the Amazon for cross-disciplinary trips. They have performed in Carnegie Hall, participated in national forensics tournaments and traveled to the Sundance Film Festival to work as movie critics.

Ottawa University students organize and host the Kansas Kids Fitness Day each year for more than 300 third graders. They have assisted with the Ottawa Tribe oral history project by conducting and transcribing interviews with senior tribe members, and they give of their own time and talents to conduct Braving Discipleship, a weekend spiritual retreat held on campus for area high school students.

Prepared for the Future

Every student at Ottawa University completes a Senior Core capstone course that requires team-based research on social issues. Together, they develop possible solutions to address their topics and take action to raise awareness. At Ottawa University, students are provided every opportunity to make an impact on the world.


From embracing spiritual values to executing business practices, students are pushed to explore, research, and evaluate questions for themselves, arriving at answers rather than spoon-feeding long lists of facts and information. At Ottawa University, mastery is as much about the discovery of knowledge as it is the knowledge itself.

Top-Level, Easily Accessible Faculty

With a faculty–student ratio of 1:18, personal engagement, direction, and collaboration define Ottawa’s professor/student relationship. Teachers know their students by name (most of the staff do, too!), and each individual gets the personal attention needed to succeed. Through a wide range of service learning projects and experiential learning opportunities, students can also engage directly in their education by completing dynamic projects that are particularly meaningful to them.

A meaningful career begins at Ottawa University

With more than 30 majors offered across three schools (Arts and Sciences, Education, and Business), students can select from a wide range of majors and concentrations that prepare them for meaningful careers or graduate programs.

Brand new, state-of-the-art facilities

To augment the teaching and learning experience at Ottawa University, a new library and student center recently opened on the Ottawa campus. Through the student center, students can broaden their academic exposure by speaking to top OU professors from across the country. To enhance the educational experience, other facilities and equipment are regularly upgraded, such as the state-of-the-art Wenger music practice studios. Ottawa University is the only school in northeast Kansas to offer facilities of this caliber.

Beyond the Classroom

In today’s global society, students often hear, “The world is your classroom.” At Ottawa University, that means traveling abroad, working with inner-city children, exploring the business practices of Indonesia, and gaining insight from their fellow classmates’ diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Other times, it means that the world is brought to the students through arts and cultural events, speakers, conferences, workshops, or weekly exploration sessions. Ottawa University believes that, by exposing themselves to a broad base of ideas, experiences, and people, students learn to achieve a better understanding of who they want to become.

Diverse Speakers

Some of the esteemed speakers who have come to inspire Ottawa University students have been:

  • Steven Hawley, NASA astronaut
  • Albert Brinson, friend and colleague of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Viktor Yushchenko, former President of Ukraine
  • James Gwartney, celebrated economist and author
  • George McGovern, state senator and presidential candidate

Annual Conferences/Events

There is always something for students to do. Ottawa University holds a variety of events every year, including:

  • Pastors and Laity Conference
  • Angell Snyder School of Business Symposium
  • Annual Baseball in Literature and Culture Conference
  • Adventures in Faith

Cultural Events

The cultural atmosphere at OU is thriving, and students regularly participate in such events as:

  • Jazz, chorale, band, and orchestral concerts
  • Interpretive dance performances
  • Art exhibits
  • Documentary viewing and talk-back sessions
  • Etiquette dinners
  • Forensics and debate tournaments

Volunteer Opportunities

Service is a cornerstone of student life at Ottawa. Opportunities for life-changing service include but are not limited to:

  • Kansas Kids Fitness Day
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Inner-city Mentoring Program
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters
  • Christmas Toy Drive

Adawe (Say What?)

In 2008, Ottawa University established the Adawe LifePlan Center to serve as the epicenter for academic advising, counseling, and career services. Adawe (pronounced “a-dah-way”) is an Ottawa word that means “to trade.” Within the LifePlan Center, advisors facilitate educational exchanges and bring together a range of resources for collaborative mentoring. Tutoring services, experiential learning opportunities, workshops, personal counseling, spiritual exploration, academic advising, and career services are all available to students through the Adawe Center.

The Center is also where students meet with personal success coaches and embark on their four-year process for developing life plans that encompasses four key areas: self awareness, personal values, life-long practices, and career competencies. This unique concept is one way Ottawa University delivers its promise to help students “prepare for a life of significance.” So, when they cross the stage at graduation, students walk away with much more than a diploma. They also take with them a life- plan narrative, a career action plan, a working portfolio, a variety of career options, and a map for leaving an OU legacy.

The Adawe LifePlan Center is such a game-changer for many students because because it lets students know that someone has their back—someone who will help them navigate through college and beyond. It is also setting OU apart by assuring parents that the University is looking out for their students, both academically and personally.



1,002 Total Applicants 
410 Total Admissions 
160 Total Freshman Enrollment

40.92% of applicants admitted


Net Price Calculator


Tuition $25,350
Fees $854
Total $26,204
Room and Board (on campus) $8,910
Room Only $4,016
Board Only $4,894
Estimated Total On Campus $35,114


Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015

100% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
98% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded student loan aid

$18,040 Average amount of federal, state, local, or institutional grant aid awarded
$8,508 Average amount of student loan aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduates


The Ottawa semi-annual Top Scholars competition is a multi-phase scholarship competition that awards the Presidential (full-tuition) and Provost Scholarships (three-quarter-tuition). The University is looking for “Top Scholars” who strive to make a difference in their own lives as well as the lives of others. This rigorous competition is only open to students who have achieved a composite ACT score of 25 or greater, earned a minimum high school GPA of 3.5, and have been accepted to Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas.

Through the “Top Scholars Competition,” awards are presented to an elite group of students that promise to add significant value to the University’s academic, cultural, and civic environment.

OU Forensic Program Celebrates 100th Birthday

Ottawa University’s forensics program recently celebrated its 100th birthday during a gala in St. Louis, Missouri. OU founded the nation’s oldest and most prestigious national speech honorary, Pi Kappa Delta (PKD), in 1913. Today, Pi...

Ottawa University Breaks Ground on New Library/Student Center

Ottawa University’s new Gangwish Library and Gibson Student Center has the green light for construction following $10 million in donations/pledges and receipt of $750,000 in challenge funds from the Mabee Foundation. The groundbreaking for the...