Dr. Paul J. Otte, the third president of Franklin University and a respected advocate for accessibility in higher education, died Sept. 29, 2015.
“The Board of Trustees send our deepest condolences to Dr. Otte’s family, friends and colleagues,” said Greg Lashutka, Board Member and former Chair. “Dr. Otte was dedicated to providing opportunities to students who might otherwise be without options for achieving their educational goals. He helped create the foundation that has allowed Franklin University to provide a high quality, relevant education enabling the broadest possible community of learners to achieve their goals and enrich the world.”
Dr. Otte served as president of Franklin University from 1986-2007. During his tenure, he oversaw a number of initiatives that expanded access for students from a wide range of work-life circumstances, socioeconomic and academic backgrounds, and locations to earn a degree. Programs established under his leadership include:
- The establishment of the Community College Alliance, an educational alliance established to provide students the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s degrees online while remaining in their communities. Today, more than 220 community colleges across the U.S. belong to the alliance.
- Adapted courses for online learning in 1998, serving at the forefront of colleges and universities in the United States offering online degree programs.
- Grew Franklin’s expertise in online learning and student-focus to position the University to be chosen as one of the original 29 institutions to participate in the delivery of online education to eligible enlisted soldiers via GoArmyEd.
- Established the Franklin University Leadership Center to serve as both a catalyst and a major resource to raise the level of central Ohio leadership in the four sectors of business, community, government, and education.
- Led the University through two major capital campaigns which more than doubled the size of the main campus, added five buildings for classroom and administrative use, and renovated the Library and other student service areas.
Prior to coming to the University, Dr. Otte served at Arthur Young in Detroit, Michigan (1969 to 1975) and Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan as Vice President for Business (1975 to 1986). Dr. Otte also served at the Detroit Bank & Trust (1965-1968) and at Wayne State Community College in Dayton (1968 to 1969).
In addition to his numerous positions in accounting and higher education, Dr. Otte also served on the boards of as a Director of State Auto Insurance Company of Ohio, State Automobile Mutual Insurance Company, Cooper State Bank, Oakstone Academy, and State Automobile Mutual Insurance Company.
He served as an advisory board member for R.C. Olmstead, and has served on several community and educational boards. In addition to teaching at Franklin University he taught at Wayne State University, the University of Detroit and Macomb Community College.
Dr. Otte earned a bachelor’s degree and MBA from Wayne State University, a doctorate in educational leadership from Western Michigan University, and an honorary associate degree from Macomb Community College.
Upon his retirement from the presidency in 2007, the Board of Trustees honored his 21 years of service to our students by dedicating the Paul J. Otte Center for Student Services. They also honored him as a proud Marine and the Corps influence on him and his leadership by establishing the Corporal Otte Marine Completion Scholarship.
He is survived by his daughter, Deanna (Eric) Kropf and son, John M. (Alicia) Otte, and his three grandchildren, Kaitlyn A. Kropf, John (Jack) D. Otte and Abigail G. Otte; nieces, Linda Drause and Krintine Otte; his ex-wife and friend, Donna M. Otte. The family plans services for Dr. Otte at Moreland Funeral Home in Westerville on Saturday, Oct. 3 with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. and a service at 1 p.m.
Accredited, nonprofit and dedicated to educating adults since 1902, Franklin provides onsite course options at over 25 Midwest locations and is an innovator in providing personalized online education. The University offers applied in-demand undergraduate, master’s and doctorate programs that enable adult learners to achieve their educational and professional goals. The University also offers several academic programs internationally, including its top-ranked MBA, through agreements with partner institutions.
Franklin University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and holds specialized accreditations for specific academic programs through the International Accreditation Council for Business Education and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.