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UCO President Don Betz Selected For Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame


The Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage Society will induct University of Central Oklahoma President Don Betz, Ph.D., to its Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame as a part of the 2013 class.

Betz joins a distinguished group of state leaders inducted to the hall over the past 20 years who have given outstanding meritorious service to higher education in Oklahoma.

“It has been a privilege and honor to serve our great state and its people during my years at UCO and Northeastern State University. I can think of no greater investment in our Oklahoma’s future than encouraging our citizens’ passion for learning,” Betz said.

In extending cultural contacts with other nations and moving Oklahoma higher educational institutions in new directions of global reach, resource sustainability and transformative learning, Betz has made a powerful contribution to the lives of Oklahoma students and to the state’s interactions with the world.

Over the span of more than 42 years, he has enjoyed a reputation for teaching, encouraging students and developing leaders. He earned his Ph.D. in International Studies from the University of Denver in 1973, but prior to that he started teaching in 1971 as an Assistant Professor at Northeastern State University (NSU) in Tahlequah, the institution where he would spend much of his career.

Between 1982 and 1984, he served as a Liaison Officer for the United Nations on various Middle East issues including the question of Palestine. He served over the years as Vice President of University Relations at NSU, provost at Palmer College in Iowa and then moved to become Provost at the University of Central Oklahoma from 1999-2005. After three years as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at River Falls, he returned to Northeastern State as President between 2008 and 2011, and then became President of the University of Central Oklahoma in 2011.

Within the state he has served as chair of Creative Oklahoma, Inc., president of Leadership Oklahoma, and as a board member for the Educators’ Leadership Academy, Great Expectations, Oklahoma A+ Schools, and the DaVinci Institute. He was a founding member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' American Democracy Project in 2002. In 1991 he received from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence the Medal of Excellence in University Teaching and in 2012 he was given the Governor’s Award from the Oklahoma Arts Council.

The formal induction ceremony and banquet will be held at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 15 at the Jim Thorpe Museum in Oklahoma City.

To be eligible for induction, an individual must have been employed by one or more institutions of public and private higher education in Oklahoma on a full-time basis for a minimum of 10 years. Individuals not so employed, but who have performed outstanding service to higher education in the state, or organizations or institutions, are also eligible for consideration.

The Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage Society was established in 1991 as a nonprofit to support awareness of higher education’s vital role in Oklahoma history. The Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame was established in 1994.

Biographical sketches and photos of past Higher Education Hall of Fame inductees are available on the Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage Society website at


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