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UWRF's Chancellor Betz Accepts Oklahoma University Presidency

APRIL 8 , 2008--UW-River Falls Chancellor Don Betz will resign his position effective June 30 to assume the presidency of the three-campus Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.

Betz will return to an institution where he was affiliated for over two decades, serving in various administrative and educational capacities from 1971-1993. Based in Tahlequah, Okla., Northeastern State University enrolls 9,500 undergraduate and graduate students on three campuses, including Tahlequah, Broken Arrow and Muskogee.The Regional University System Board of Regents that oversees NSU offered the position to Betz on Monday.

UW System President Kevin P. Reilly announced Tuesday that UW-River Falls Provost Connie Foster will succeed Betz as interim chancellor. Since joining the faculty in 1984, Foster has held numerous administrative roles, including Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, chair of the health and human performance department and athletics director.

Working with the UW System Board of Regents and the UW-River Falls community, Reilly will begin an immediate national search for a new chancellor.

Dean Terry Brown of the College of Arts & Sciences will assume the interim provost position. Dean since 2005, Brown previously served that college as associate dean, and is a faculty member in the English department. Associate Dean Brad Caskey will lead the College of Arts & Sciences on an interim basis.

Statement of UWS President Kevin Reilly

Betz became the 16 th chancellor in the 133-year history of UW-River Falls in July 2005. His selection to lead the institution of 6,400 students by the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents was based on the recommendations of President Reilly and a campus search and screen committee comprised of faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members and administrators.

"I am grateful to President Reilly and the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents for their leadership and for the encouragement they have extended to me over these past three years," Betz said. "The community of River Falls and our friends in the St. Croix Valley and western Wisconsin have offered insightful and appreciated counsel as we at UW-River Falls worked together to chart the university's course.

"I could not have asked for a more talented, dedicated and collaborative family of professionals than the good colleagues here at UW-River Falls. No matter their position, their determination to create a true culture of learning is exemplary. They live their passion for learning. This is a special place, thanks to them. For all they have taught me, I am truly appreciative."

Since arriving at UWRF, he has led the University community through an extensive process that resulted in the strategic plan, "Living the Promise." It emphasizes the goals of campus and regional sustainability, globalization, inclusiveness and leadership development. The plan led to the creation last year of the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development. The Institute's purpose is to assist the campus to achieve Gov. Jim Doyle's directive to become energy self-sustaining by the year 2012. Additionally, it is directing faculty expertise and student resources to assist local community leaders as they address the challenges of sustainable growth in economic development, community development and social issues confronting the dynamic St. Croix Valley.

During the past year, he also successfully shepherded through the Wisconsin Legislature approval for a $14.5 million expansion of the George R. Field South Fork Suites residence hall and the providing of $1.1 million in planning money for a proposed $39.6 million Health & Human Performance Building.

In the larger region and the state, Betz is a board member of the River Falls Economic Development Corporation, SciTac and the Wisconsin Rural Leadership Program.

From 1982 through 2003, Betz worked for and with the United Nations on Middle East issues. He created and chaired the International Coordinating Committee on the Question of Palestine (ICCP), a UN-affiliated non-governmental organization network pursuing peace in the Middle East based on UN resolutions. His extensive international experience includes visits to more than 80 nations. During his tenure at UWRF, the campus strengthened or added new student or faculty exchange programs in China, Taiwan, India, Japan, Korea, Bahrain, Turkey, Bolivia and Mexico.

A frequent writer and speaker, Betz has addressed international, motivational and educational topics, and has worked with newspapers, radio and television.  

Betz joined UW-River Falls from the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Okla., where 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. Throughout his career, Dr. Betz has taught thousands of students.

At NSU he was the vice president of university relations and professor of political science. During his tenure 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 adviser of the university's President's Leadership Class and its Model United Nations program.

"I taught my first college class at Northeastern State University in 1971 as a brand new assistant professor of political science and served the institution for over 23 years. For Susanne and I, the opportunity to return to NSU is like going home," Betz said.

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. He is married to Susanne and they have a daughter, Sarah Williams, who lives in Farmington, Minn. Their son, Nick, resides in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Statement of UWS President Kevin Reilly.


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:56 Central Daylight Time


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