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, and leadership development. He also is known for his diplomacy skills, developed through his international activities, most notably with the United Nations and its affiliated non-government organizations.
Enhancing that reputation, he currently is serving a three-year term on the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) executive committee and as chair of its North American Council. President Betz was selected to attend the 2011 Fulbright-Hays Seminar for Presidents Scholar, held in Oman and Jordan. The purpose was to explore opportunities for future program development in the region with stakeholders on American college campuses.
Becoming Central’s 20th president in August 2011 meant a special homecoming for President Betz, who served as Central’s provost and vice president of Academic Affairs from 1999-2005. Returning to Central was coming back to a university where he had developed several initiatives and programs that had helped transform Central into its stature today as one of the leading metropolitan universities in the nation. He currently serves as a member of the founding implementation committee for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) American Democracy Project and is past chair of Creative Oklahoma, Inc. He is also a member of the Oklahoma Academy, Leadership Oklahoma, and the Universities and Colleges President’s Climate Commitment.
Prior to returning to Central, he served as president of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., since July 2008. Before that, he served as chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls from 2005 until his appointment at Northeastern, 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, a professor of Political Science, as well as the executive director of the Educational Foundation and assistant to the president.
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, President Betz has addressed international, educational and 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.
He and his wife, Susanne, have two married children and two grandchildren.