AerospaceHuman ResourcesArchitectureInnovationBanking & FinanceNonprofitsConstructionReal EstateEconomy RetailEducationSales & MarketingEnergyTechnologyGovernmentTransportationHealth Care
Don Betz has consulted on such weighty matters as bringing peace to the Middle East. He’s devoted nearly 40 years of his life to higher education, and written and spoken on various topics around the globe.
“I was at Northeastern (State University) for 23 years, and I guess I thought I would stay there until the end,” he says. “There are two institutions in the country I felt were doing unique things for students on a regular basis. One was NSU, and the other was UCO.”
Betz laid the groundwork for his return to UCO from 1999 to 2005, when he served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the school. He also found time to teach, instructing a political science course for a few semesters.
“The work he did while at Central helped make this institution what it is today,” retired UCO President W. Roger Webb says.
Betz takes the reins at UCO during a time the school is enjoying dramatic growth and recognition.
The state’s largest metropolitan university, situated on a 210-acre campus, is Edmond’s largest employer, with nearly 2,500 part-time and full-time positions.
In August, UCO recorded its third straight year of record enrollment, topping 17,100 students.
Over the summer, the university closed on the purchase of the Oklahoma Hardware Building in Bricktown to expand its Academy of Contemporary Music.
“Certainly the location of the university puts us right smack in the middle of a dynamic area, and not just for Oklahoma, but for the entire country.” —Don Betz
Since opening in 2009, ACM@UCO has grown from 150 students to nearly 500.
The school also boasts the 15th largest international student enrollment in master’s degree-granting institutions in the U.S.
“Everyone says in real estate, location is everything,” Betz says. “Certainly the location of the university puts us right smack in the middle of a dynamic area, and not just for Oklahoma, but for the entire country. As a public, four-year institution, it puts us in a very unique position to assist this region to accomplish its goals. We believe very strongly that universities are stewards of the places they are in.”
Betz currently is serving a three-year term on the International Association of University Presidents executive committee, and is the chair of its North American Council.
August was Betz’s first month on the job. That also was when the Chronicle of Higher Education named UCO to its “2011 Great Colleges to Work For” listing.
The university ranked among the nation’s best in three categories, including supervisor or department chair relationship, professional/career development programs and work/life balance. It was the third time UCO made the list in four years.
In a state that bleeds either orange or red, Betz says schools such as NSU and UCO still play an important role.
“I think everybody should cheer for the team they want on the weekends,” he says, “but realize it takes a full range of institutions to meet the growth and development needs for this state.”
Photo by Shannon Cornman