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Don Betz Named New University of Central Oklahoma President

June 2, 2011

Media Contact: Adrienne Nobles, Director of Communications and Marketing, University of Central Oklahoma, (405) 974-2103,


The Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO) Board of Regents today named Don Betz, Ph.D., the 20th president of the University of Central Oklahoma.           

Betz will officially take the position Aug. 1.  Current UCO President W. Roger Webb, originally set to retire June 30, will stay through July to assist with the transition.           

“Don Betz will advance the growth and momentum initiated by Roger Webb’s innovation and vision at the University of Central Oklahoma,” said Regent Connie Reilly, board chair.        

“He is the right person to lead the state’s largest metropolitan university, and we are excited to see where Central will go under his leadership.”             

Currently president of Northeastern State University (NSU) in Tahlequah, Okla., Betz is a familiar face to the Central community.  He served as provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, as well as a professor of Political Science, from 1999-2005.           

“I am honored that the RUSO Board of Regents has provided me with this opportunity to serve the faculty, staff and students of the University of Central Oklahoma,” said Betz.        

“I leave NSU with great affection and appreciation, but look forward to joining colleagues at Central in enhancing Oklahoma’s public metropolitan university.”

Webb expressed enthusiasm at the announcement, saying he both admires and values Betz as a friend and colleague.

“The work he did while at Central helped make this institution what it is today,” said Webb.

“Since then, he has gained valuable experience that will make him an even bigger asset to helping the university continue to grow and excel.  I applaud the RUSO board for this wonderful decision.”

Betz has been president at NSU since 2008.  With nearly 40 years of higher education experience, he also served as chancellor at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls from 2005-2008, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at Palmer College in Davenport, Iowa, and previously in various capacities at NSU for 23 years, including vice president of University Relations.

From 1982-2003, 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, a U.N.-affiliated non-governmental organization network pursuing peace in the Middle East based on U.N. resolutions.

His many accomplishments include serving as president of Leadership Oklahoma; a board member for the Educators’ Leadership Academy, Great Expectations, the Oklahoma A+ Schools, the Edmond Economic Development Authority and the DaVinci Institute; and the awards selection committee for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. He is also a frequent writer and speaker on various international, educational and motivational topics.

Since 2002, Betz has been a member of the founding implementation committee for American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) American Democracy Project. He was the recipient of the 1991 Medal of Excellence in University Teaching from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

He currently serves as the chair of the Northeast Oklahoma Public Facility Authority; board member for BancFirst, the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and Creative Oklahoma, Inc.; and chair of the RUSO 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 is Vice Chair of AASCU’s International Education Committee.

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 also completed Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management (IEM).

Ideally located just north of Oklahoma City in Edmond, Okla., the University of Central Oklahoma is the state’s largest metropolitan university, serving more than 17,000 students pursuing degrees in 114 undergraduate and 54 graduate major areas of study and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.           

Founded as a teachers’ college in 1890, Central considers itself an institution where teaching comes first, and, with a 19:1 student/faculty ratio, students can enjoy personal relationships with faculty and staff who are committed to transforming lives.             

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Cutline:  The Regional University System of Oklahoma Board of Regents has named Don Betz, Ph.D., as the University of Central Oklahoma’s new president.