Meet The President

Learn More About Central's New President, Don Betz, Ph.D.

For President Don Betz, becoming the University of Central Oklahoma's 20th president in August 2011 is a homecoming of sorts.  Having served as Central's Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs from 1999-2005, he developed several initiatives and programs that have helped transform Central into one of the leading metropolitan universities in the nation.President Don Betz

President Betz has enjoyed a distinguished career in higher education that spans more than 40 years, developing a reputation for teaching and encouraging students, leadership development and diplomacy through his international activities, most notably with the United Nations and its affiliated non-government organizations.  Further enhancing that reputation, currently he is serving a three-year term on the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) executive committee and chair of its North American Council.  Dr. Betz was selected to attend the 2011 Fulbright-Hays Seminar in Oman and Jordan to explore opportunities for future program development in the region with stakeholders on American college campuses.

Prior to returning to Central, he served as president of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., a post he held since July 2008.  He also served as Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls from 2005 until his appointment at NSU and as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Palmer College, Davenport, Iowa, from 1994-1999.  In the 23 years prior, he fulfilled various capacities at Northeastern, including the Vice President of University Relations and Professor of Political Science.  While at NSU, he also was the Executive Director of the Educational Foundation, Assistant to the President, Dean of Continuing Education and Special Programs, Director of the Sequoyah Institute/Center for Tribal Studies, the founder and advisor of the university's President's Leadership Class and its Model United Nations program. 

From 1982 through 2003, President Betz worked for and with the United Nations on Middle East issues.  He founded and chaired the International Coordinating Committee on the Question of Palestine (ICCP), a UN-affiliated non-governmental organization (NGO) network pursuing peace in the Middle East based on UN resolutions.  His extensive international experience includes service with the University of Pittsburgh's Semester-at-Sea, Chapman College's World Campus Afloat, and journalistic experience in the Middle East. 

A frequent writer and speaker, Dr. Betz has addressed international, educational, motivational topics, and has worked with newspapers, radio and television.  His life-long interest in global issues and his passion for promoting cross-cultural understanding has led him to more than 80 countries. 

His many accomplishments also include his current position as chairman of the board for Creative Oklahoma, as well as serving as president of Leadership Oklahoma, a board member for the Educators' Leadership Academy, Great Expectations, the Oklahoma A+ Whole School Reform Program, the Edmond Economic Development Authority, the DaVinci Institute, Life University and the awards selection committee for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.  Since 2002, Dr. Betz has been a member of the founding implementation committee for AASCU's American Democracy Project.  He was the recipient of the 1991 Medal of Excellence in University Teaching from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

While president of Northeastern State University he served as the chair of the Northeast Oklahoma Public Facility Authority, board member for BancFirst in Tahlequah, the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, Creative Oklahoma, Inc., and chair of the Regional University System of Oklahoma Council of Presidents.  He is a member of the Oklahoma Academy, Leadership Oklahoma, Universities and Colleges President's Climate Commitment, International Association of University Presidents and has served as Chairman of AASCU's International Education Committee.

President Betz received his B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of San Francisco and his M.A. and Ph.D. in International Studies from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver.  He completed Harvard University's Institute for Educational Management.