President Don Betz has enjoyed a distinguished career in higher education for more than 37 years. During that time he developed a reputation for teaching and encouraging students, leadership development and diplomacy through his international activities, most notably associated with the United Nations and its affiliated non-government organizations.
On July 1, 2008, Dr. Betz became the 17th president of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, on the eve of the institution’s Centennial Celebration. President Betz resumed his association with NSU, where he began his academic career, after serving as Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls since 2005. At the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma, he was Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Political Science from 1999 to July 2005. From 1994 to 1999, he served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Palmer College, Davenport, Iowa. For twenty-three years, 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. Throughout his career, he has taught thousands of students.
From 1982 through 2003, Dr. 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. Dr. Betz’s 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 led him to over 80 countries.
His many accomplishments include 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 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. Dr. Betz was the recipient of the 1991 Medal of Excellence in University Teaching from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
Since assuming the presidency at Northeastern State University he serves as the chair of the Northeast Oklahoma Public Facility Authority, board member for BancFirst, 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 is Vice Chair 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 (IEM).