Ottawa University
Former names
Roger Williams University
Veritas vos liberabit
Motto in English
The truth will set you free
TypePrivate university
Established1865; 156 years ago (1865)
Endowment$14.3 million (2016)[1]
ChancellorWilliam Tsutsui
PresidentReggies Wenyika [OU] Dennis Tyner [OUAZ]
ProvostTerry Haines
RectorJohn Holzhüter
Location, ,
United States

38°36′09″N 95°15′56″W / 38.602589°N 95.265542°W / 38.602589; -95.265542Coordinates: 38°36′09″N 95°15′56″W / 38.602589°N 95.265542°W / 38.602589; -95.265542
ColorsBlack and Gold
NicknameBraves, Spirit
Sporting affiliations
NAIAKCAC Edit this at Wikidata

Ottawa University (OU) is a private Baptist liberal arts university with its main campus in Ottawa, Kansas, a second residential campus in Surprise, Arizona, and adult campuses in the Kansas City, Phoenix and Milwaukee metropolitan areas. It was founded in 1865 and is affiliated with the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma and the American Baptist Churches USA. The residential campus in Ottawa has a student enrollment of more than 850 students, while the OUAZ campus in Surprise boasts more than 900. In total, Ottawa University serves more than 4,000 students across all of its campuses and online.[2]


The origins of Ottawa University date back to the 1860s when Baptist missionaries 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 and "Ottawa University" was adopted. Eventually, the campus was whittled down to about 640 acres.[3]


Aerial view of Ottawa University
Aerial view of Ottawa University
Tauy Jones Hall is Ottawa University's oldest building, built in 1869.
Tauy Jones Hall is Ottawa University's oldest building, built in 1869.

The original campus, founded in 1865, is in Ottawa, Kansas. It is referred to as OU.

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

In addition to the residential locations, OU has adult campuses in Overland Park, Kansas; Phoenix, Arizona; and Brookfield, Wisconsin.[4]


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.[5]


Ottawa University offers bachelor's degree programs in more than 25 disciplines. Current graduate program offerings include Master of Accountancy, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Arts in Education (MAEd), Master of Arts in Human Resources (MAHR), Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC), Master of Arts in Leadership, Master of Science in Addiction Counseling, and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

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.[6]

Research and cultural resources

Ottawa University is the Alpha chapter of Pi Kappa Delta,[7] the national speech and debate honorary. In 1913, Ottawa became the founding member and continues to invest in forensic activities over 100 years later.

Free and open to the Ottawa, Kansas, and surrounding communities, the music department holds a number of concerts throughout the year both on campus and in local venues. The theatre department offers a variety of productions for the community. The University serves as a host for community related events throughout the year.


Kansas campus

Main article: Ottawa Braves

The team in Kansas 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 university provides 30 varsity athletic teams—13 men's teams, 14 women's teams, 3 co-ed teams, and a varied intramural programs.[8] Men's sports include baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, powerlifting, soccer, tennis, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, beach volleyball, bowling, cross country, flag football, golf, lacrosse, powerlifting, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling. Co-ed teams include competitive cheer, dance and esports.

Arizona campus

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 Athletic Conference (GSAC); football will compete in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC). 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

The campus in Ottawa, Kansas, offers more than 30 student groups, clubs and organizations, including the oldest student-run newspaper in Kansas, The Campus. The school offers drama, music, fraternities and sororities, honor societies, campus ministry opportunities, and other activities.[9]

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


  1. ^ "Ottawa University". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  2. ^ "Ottawa University History and Ottawa Tribe Heritage". Ottawa University. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  3. ^ Connelley, William (1919). A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. 2. Chicago, IL: Lewis Publishing Company. pp. 1041–2.
  4. ^ "Adult Education". Ottawa University. Archived from the original on June 27, 2014. Retrieved October 4, 2017. Note: However over the tab reading "Locations" to see campus locations.
  5. ^ "University Accreditation". Ottawa University. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  6. ^ "Best Regional Colleges Midwest Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. 2017. Archived from the original on October 4, 2017. Note: U.S. News & World Report ranks regional colleges and universities separately.
  7. ^ Norton, L. E. "The History of Pi Kappa Delta" (PDF). Speech and Debate. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  8. ^ "Ottawa Braves". Ottawa University Braves. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  9. ^ "Fast Facts". Ottawa University. Archived from the original on July 2, 2007.