Ottawa University Arizona opens campus in Surprise


TED SIMONS: YOU ADD THE CITY OF SURPRISE TO THE LIST OF ARIZONA COLLEGE TOWNS. OTTAWA UNIVERSITY ARIZONA IS SET TO BEGIN CLASSES THIS FALL NEXT TO THE CITY'S CIVIC CENTER. THE CAMPUS WILL OPEN WITH 350 STUDENTS WITH THE GOAL OF 3,000 STUDENTS WITHIN 10 YEARS. JOINING US IS OTTAWA UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT KEVIN EICHNER AND THE MAYOR OF SURPRISE, SHARON WOLCOTT. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE.

TED SIMONS: TALKE TO US ABOUT OTTAWA UNIVERSITY, A NONPROFIT CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY BASED IN KANSAS?

KEVIN EICHNER: ORIGINATED IN OTTAWA, KANSAS, 1865.

TED SIMONS: WHY A CAMPUS? A BRICKS AND MORTAR CAMPUS, NOT SOMETHING OVER THE INTERNET. WHY A BRICKS AND MORTAR CAMPUS IN SURPRISE?

KEVIN EICHNER: WE'VE BEEN IN THE VALLEY FOR 40 YEARS. WE HAVE 8300 ALUMNI. MORE ALUMNI IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN THAN ANY OTHER PLACE IN THE WORLD. OUR INSTITUTION. SURPRISE IS A GREAT GROWING CITY. VERY WELCOMING FOR WHAT IT IS WE'RE TRYING TO DO. AS MAYOR WALCOTT WILL TELL YOU, WHEN SHE FIRST SAW THE PLACE, SHE THOUGHT IT FELT LIKE A CAMPUS. WHEN I FIRST SAW IT, IT FELT JUST LIKE A CAMPUS. IT'S THE FIFTH LARGEST MARKET IN AMERICA. THERE'SVERY LITTLE PRIVATE CHRISTIAN HIGHER EDUCATION DOING THE KINDS OF THINGS THAT WE WANT TO DO. SO IT'S A GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

TED SIMONS: WE WANT TO TALK ABOUT THESE KINDS OF THINGS IN A SECOND. HOW DID THIS ALL COME TOGETHER?

SHARON WOLCOTT: WELL ACTUALLY DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE RECESSION. THE DAY BEFORE THE CITY MOVED IN TO THE NEW CITY HALL, THE FORMER COUNCIL MEMBER AFFORDED ME, A PRIVATE CITIZEN, AN OPPORTUNITY TO VIEW THIS NEW CITY HALL. I CAME OUT AND LOOKED SOUTH TO GREENWAY AVENUE. I SAW A WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD THAT WAS UNDERWATER. HERE WE WERE, A GROWING YOUNG COMMUNITY WHO HAD CREATED A LOT OF PLACES FOR PEOPLE TO LIVE, A LOT OF PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE. AND YET SO MANY OF THESE YOUNG FAMILIES HAVE LOST THEIR HOMES. AND WE HAD JUST BUILT THIS BEAUTIFUL NEW CITY HALL. SO I THOUGHT TO MYSELF THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER WAY TO UTILIZE THE PUBLIC INVESTMENT IN THIS BEAUTIFUL FACILITY THAT WOULD BE GOOD FOR THE ENTIRE CITY. SHORTLY THEREAFTER, I BECAME A CITY COUNCIL PERSON AND WE EMBARKED ON A STRATEGIC PLAN ON HOW WE CAN PIVOT FROM BEING A BEDROOM COMMUNITY INTO BEING A WELL-ROUNDED WHOLE COMMUNITY AND HAVING A UNIVERSITY AS PART OF THAT PROCESS WAS CERTAINLY THE APPLE OF MY EYE.

TED SIMONS: DID YOU GO TO OTTAWA? DID OTTAWA COME TO YOU?

SHARON WOLCOTT: ACTUALLY, WE STARTED OFF WITH A PROCESS WHERE WE INVITED UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS IN FROM AROUND THE WEST. THEY CAME IN AND KICKED THE TIRES IN SURPRISE FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS. THEY SAID, DO YOU WANT TO GROW A NEW UNIVERSITY OR DO YOU WANT TO PERHAPS ENTICE THE UNIVERSITY TO EXPAND IN THIS MARKET? SO THAT WAS THE QUESTION THEY POSED TO US. WE TALKED ABOUT IT. WE TALKED TO ARIZONA STATE AND U OF A. WE REALIZED WE WANTED SOMETHING SMALLER, SOMETHING MORE PRIVATE. ANOTHER OPTION FOR OUR STUDENTS. AND OUR FOCUS WAS KEENLY ON EDUCATION BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT HAVING AN EDUCATED WORKFORCE IS WHAT'S GOING TO CREATE MORE OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR YOUNG TOWN.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS THE SCHOOL, THE UNIVERSITY IS CONCERNED. I NOTICED BUSINESS EMPHASIZED A LITTLE BIT HERE, BUT ALSO EDUCATION, ARTS AND SCIENCES, HEALTH AND APPLIED SCIENCES, THESE SORTS OF THINGS. IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU KIND OF REFERRED TO THIS EARLIER. YOU DID THINGS IN DIFFERENT WAYS HERE. TALK TO US ABOUT IT.

KEVIN EICHNER: THERE ARE SEVERAL THINSG. WE THINK FRANKLY PARTS OF HIGHER EDUCATION ARE BROKEN AND LONG OVERDUE FOR SOME CHANGE. AND OTTAWA HAS A LONG HISTORY OF BEING AN INNOVATOR. WE WERE ONE OF THE FIRST INSTITUTIONS IN THE COUNTRY BACK IN THE 1970s TO GET TO ADULT HIGHER EDUCATION AS A SPECIFIC VENUE. SO ONE OF THE THINGS WE'RE GOING TO DO AT THIS CAMPUS IS EACH OF OUR STUDENTS WILL HAVE A SUCCESS COACH, ADAWE LIFE PLAN CENTER WE CALL IT. EACH WILL HAVE ONE OF THOSE. OUR STUDENTS WILL HAVE A FLEX TERM CALENDAR. WHOEVER SAID THAT ALL COURSES SHOULD BE A SEMESTER IN LENGTH? STUDENTS LEARN IN DIFFERENT WAYS, DIFFERENT COURSES SHOULD BE DELIVERED IN DIFFERENT CONTEXT. MOST OF OUR STUDENTS WILL TAKE TWO CLASSES AT A TIME FOR EIGHT WEEKS. SOME WILL BE 3 1/2, SOME WILL GO 16. WE WILL HAVE A -- WE'RE TAKING THE WEDNESDAY OF EACH WEEK AND WE'RE CALLING THESE PERSONAL GROWTH DAYS. WHAT WE'RE GOING DO WITH OUR PERSONAL GROWTH DAYS IS DO THE TRAINING AND EDUCATION THAT I DID WHEN I WAS IN THE CORPORATE WORLD PRIOR TO THIS WHEN I SPENT MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FRANKLY TRAINING GRADUATES WHERE I THOUGHT THE SCHOOLS SHOULD HAVE DONE THAT. AND THINGS LIKE SKILLS IN AREAS LIKE NEGOTIATION AND TEAM BUILDING AND THOSE KINDS OF AREAS, INTERPERSONAL VERSATILITY, THE LIFE SKILLS THEY NEED SO THEY'RE WORK READY WHEN THEY GRADUATE.

TED SIMONS: YEAH, THINGS LIKE SHOWING UP ON TIME.

KEVIN EICHNER: THAT SORT OF BASIC THING.

TED SIMONS: EXACTLY. EXACTLY. AS FAR AS THE CITY IS CONCERNED, HOW MUCH IS EARMARKED NOW FOR CAPITAL EXPENDITURES AND THESE SORTS OF--HOW MUCH IS THIS COSTING THE CITY?

SHARON WOLCOTT: WELL, WE LOOK AT IT AS A BUSINESS TRANSACTION BECAUSE QUITE FRANKLY, WHEN WE DEAL WITH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR ANY VENUE, WE'RE LOOKING AT THE INFRASTRUCTURE. AND THE INFRASTRUCTURE IS SOMETHING THAT IS USED BY ALL. SO WE'VE ALREADY INVESTED IN OUR CITY HALL AND ALL THE FACILITIES THAT ARE IN OUR CITY CENTER. WE CERTAINLY ARE CONTINUING TO INVEST IN THE INFRASTRUCTURE THAT SURROUNDS CITY HALL AND WILL ALSO SERVE THE UNIVERSITY. SO IT REALLY IS AN INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT THAT WE'RE MAKING THAT WILL BE BENEFICIAL TO THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY.

TED SIMONS: I READ 4 MILLION DOLLARS EARMARKED SO FAR?

SHARON WOLCOTT: NO. NO. WE HAVE APPROPRIATED APPROXIMATELY 2 (MILLION) FOR INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT.

TED SIMONS: 2 WITH MAYBE $2 MILLION LATER EARMARKED. IS IT JUST 2 AND THAT'S THE BALL GAME RIGHT THERE.

SHARON WOLCOTT: THAT'S WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT RIGHT NOW.

TED SIMONS: AND IS THAT THE KIND OF THING THAT YOU WOULD SPLIT WITH THE UNIVERSITY? HOW WOULD THAT WORK?

SHARON WOLCOTT: THE INFRASTRUCTURE ITSELF IS LIKE ANY OTHER UNIVERSITY OR PRIVATE ENTITY COMING IN FOR AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY. WE'RE TYPICALLY IN FOR THE INFRASTRUCTURE.

TED SIMONS: THAT'S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. AND YOUR RESPONSIBILITY --

KEVIN EICHNER: WE'RE LEASING THE LAND FROM THE CITY AT A COMMERCIAL RATE. WE'RE RESPONSIBLE FOR DOING ALL OF THE BUILDOUT.

TED SIMONS: OKAY.

KEVIN EICHNER: WE'VE ALSO TAKEN OVER THE BUILDING THAT EXISTS THERE, WHICH IS THE UNIVERSITY BUILDING THAT WAS A MARICOPA COMMUNITY COLLEGE BUILDING. WE'VE HAD A LONG PARTNERSHIP WITH THEM. THAT'S A GREAT PLACE TO START.

TED SIMONS: TUITION COSTS, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?

KEVIN EICHNER: IT'LL BE $26,000. BUT THE AVERAGE STUDENT WILL PROBABLY BE OUT OF POCKET FOR LESS THAN $15,000.

TED SIMONS: FOR THE FULL YEAR, BOTH SEMESTERS?

KEVIN EICHNER: CORRECT.

TED SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE THIS PROJECT DO FOR THAT PART OF SURPRISE?

SHARON WOLCOTT: IT'S MORE THAN JUST FOR SURPRISE. NOT JUST THAT PART OF SURPRISE, BUT FOR SURPRISE AND THE ENTIRE WEST VALLEY. IT'S CREATING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES. WE ALREADY KNOW WE HAVE AN EDUCATED WORKFORCE THAT LIVES IN SURPRISE THAT COMMUTES ELSEWHERE. BUT HAVING OUR OWN UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY WILL ALSO HELP TO BRING OTHER ANCILLARY BUSINESSES THAT WILL WANT TO LOCATE NEAR A UNIVERSITY AND WE'LL BE ABLE TO CAPTURE MORE OF OUR EXISTING WORKFORCE THAT LIVES IN SURPRISE TO WORK IN SURPRISE. SO IT'S A WIN-WIN FOR ALL OF US FOR THE WEST VALLEY. IT'S A WIN-WIN FRANKLY FOR THE -- FOR THE STATE ROADS AND HIGHWAYS THAT ARE BECOMING INCREASINGLY CONGESTED. KEEPING OUR WORKFORCE AT HOME, KEEPING THEM CLOSE.

TED SIMONS: WE HAVE LESS THAN A MINUTE LEFT. SIMILAR EFFORTS IN OTHER PARTS OF THE VALLEY HAVE FAILED WITH SMALL COLLEGES MOVING TO DOWNTOWNS. WHAT'S DIFFERENT ABOUT YOURS?

KEVIN EICHNER: THEY -- YOU KNOW, WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO THOSE EFFORTS, THEY WERE REALLY MORE LIKE PEOPLE COMING IN AND RENTING A BUILDING AND DOING WHAT HAS BEEN DONE HERE IN THE VALLEY FOR MANY, MANY YEARS. WE'VE BEEN RENTING SPACE FOR 40 YEARS. BUT BUILDING A RESIDENTIAL CAMPUS WHERE YOU'RE GOING AFTER THE 18 TO 23-YEAR-OLD STUDENTS AND BUILDING ON AN ATHLETIC PROGRAM, FOR EXAMPLE, WHERE WE START WITH 21 VARSITY SPORTS ON DAY ONE, THAT'S A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT KIND OF APPROACH.

TED SIMONS: WE HAVE TO STOP YOU RIGHT THERE. GOOD LUCK, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR DOING THIS.

SHARON WOLCOTT: THANK YOU.

KEVIN EICHNER: COME SEE US.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT. THAT'S IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US, YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

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Ottawa University Arizona is opening a new campus in Surprise this fall. The campus will open with 350 students with a goal of 3,000 students within 10 years. The Surprise campus will include housing for students, athletic fields and a stadium with an artificial turf for soccer and football. Ottawa has been working with the city of Surprise on this new campus and it will be integrated with the Surprise City Center. Hear more from Ottawa president Kevin Eichner and Surprise mayor Sharon Wolcott.

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In this segment:

Kevin Eichner: President of Ottawa University Arizona

Sharon Wolcott: Mayor of Surprise

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