And, why not? He’s been preparing for this job his whole adult life.
When Eichner graduated from Ottawa in 1973, he always assumed he would eventually become president of the University. He was ready to attend Michigan to work on an advanced education degree. “A consultant came along and asked what I was doing and going to do. I told him and he just shook his head and said, “No, you need to go to business school. And, it should be Harvard,” Eichner said. “I laughed at him because my degree was ‘Social Change’ and I had a grand total of two business courses while I was here.” He went on to earn an MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1977.
Prior to his appointment to lead Ottawa University, Eichner served as president, CEO and vice chairman of Enterprise Financial Services Corporation, the parent company of Enterprise Bank and Trust, a $3.7 billion banking wealth management company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, and with operations in Greater Kansas City and Phoenix, Arizona. A co-founder of Enterprise, Eichner has served as its CEO for six years and oversaw its emergence as a NASDAQ-traded company recognized for its high growth and performance in the financial services industry.
This wasn’t the first time that the Board of Ottawa U. offered him the job of president. “The first time they asked was one month after we took our company public, which hardly was a good time,” Eichner laughed. “You don’t go to the public market and say, “Hey, I was just kidding.’”
While at Ottawa, Eichner had dedicated himself to a decade of full-time service. “And since I recently turned 57, I decided if I was gonna have that decade of service while I was still ambulatory, I’d better get about it.”
Eichner also served as executive vice president and CEO of General American/MetLife for five years. In 1983, he founded a successful consulting company, Collaborative Strategies, Inc., which provided consultation to a large number of management and strategic for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.
Eichner and his wife Marylin, a 2000 graduate of OU-Greater Kansas City, are the parents of three adult sons, Adam, Andy and Kyle. He has been a member of the OU Board of Trustees since 1982.
Committed to lifelong learning, Eichner designed and launched Enterprise University for Enterprise Bank and Trust, which has enrolled over 3,000 executives and non-profit leaders in workshops aimed at enhancing their knowledge and skill sets. He taught workshops on numerous business and organizational topics over the past 25 years and is known as an accomplished strategic planning facilitator.
With all of the challenges facing a University President, I wonder is he’s longing for “banker’s hours” yet?
Ottawa University at a Glance
Founded in 1865, Ottawa University is a comprehensive, not-for-profit educational institution affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA. Ottawa University’s educational mission brings together and serves over 7000 students at a residential College in Ottawa, Kansas, and adult campuses in Overland Park, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe, Arizona; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Jeffersonville, Indiana, along with multiple international instructional sites.
The Ottawa University History
With a rich history tied to the Ottawa Indians and the American Baptist Churches,
USA, Ottawa University is proud of its heritage and committed to honoring those who are responsible for it. From 1837-1855, Rev. Jotham Meeker and his wife, Eleanor, were Baptist missionaries to the Ottawa Indian Tribe in the Midwest region, which is now Ottawa, Kansas. The Meekers devoted themselves to improving the lives of the Ottawa Indians and inspiring a hunger for education and religion. After the Meekers’ deaths, the Ottawa Indians carried on the missionaries’ Christian leadership with a strong desire to educate their children.
The mission of Ottawa University is 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.