Q&A with UCO President Don Betz

Q&A with UCO President Don Betz

Dr. Don Betz, president of the University of Central Oklahoma poses at his desk located in the Lillard Administration Building. Twenty presidents have served the university since it was established in 1890, with Betz serving since 2011. Photo by Ryan Naeve, the Vista. 

Reporter’s Note:  This question and answer session looks into the direction President Don Betz plans to take for the University of Central Oklahoma and more about his life. Many of the questions were submitted by students from UCO and members of the community.

The University Q&A

Q: What changes do you hope to see in the University? 

A: “The institution will grow and change based on its ability to respond creatively to the needs of the people that we serve. We have focused our attention obviously on Oklahoma and specifically on the metro, because that is what we are… Our responsibly is to read the needs of the communities and enterprises and people in this region and to provide,” Betz said.

A:“To that extent [infrastructure and campus size] we are not going to be able a grow, we won’t be relying on state funding to grow the campus, so we rely on one example like the federal grant approach. There are different ways you can do that [raise funds], you can increase the enrollment, the number of partners you have outside that want to make investments in the institution, and grants and contracts whether they are based in faculty or institutional grants or contracts. There are a couple of ways that we can go to increase the university.” Betz said.

A:”The growth part for us is to sustain, for example, if you are admitting 2,400 freshman and we know that not all of them will persist, given the nature of our demographic and historic etc.. Part of the growth is effectivity decreasing the number of those who do not persist or actively increasing the number of those who do persist. Because then you have greater opportunity for the individual and the communities they serve and the institution to follow out them out to success. ” Betz said.

A: “I also hope to encourage students and others to reach much further than they have gone and to set high goals, which may be hard to achieve,” Betz said.

A: “A part of my future plan is to continue cultivate that very significant relationship, a relationship born of multiple opportunity to create a different outcome than what we are currently experiencing.” Betz said.

Advice for the university:

“The day we stop actively learning, we begin to count the seconds to the end and I am not in that mode at this particular time.” Betz said.

The Life of Betz Q&A

Q: What changes do you want to see in yourself in the future?

A: “I have a great deal to learn as time goes on. I have so many opportunities to increase my appreciation of the world in which I live and the people I am able to connect with. I work off the paradigm of trying to make the world a better place every day and I will continue in my entire life time and as president.” Betz said.

Q: What is your favorite soda?

A: CokeZero

Q: What is your favorite sport? 

A: “My favorite sport has to be baseball. I spent a lot of my younger life in Chicago, so I am a long suffering Cubs fan. I have been to many other parks and like the teams, but this year may be the year for us. We have been saying that since 1945.” Betz said.

Q: Who influenced you to be in higher education?

A: “There are a whole list of people, but it was not my original plan as I have told the classes before. My pathway was to be a United States diplomatic relationship or becoming a foreign diplomate.  When I was much younger, much younger than you, I had come to the conclusion that my path was going to the global environment. I thought the best way to do that was to become a United States diplomat, eventually working my way up to an ambassador for the United States.” Betz said.

Q: Do you play an instrument?

A: “I did not play an instrument. I was mostly a part of the choir, we did a lot of working with courses and I did a lot of acting, musicals and that sort of things. Most of that was middle school, high school, and some college.” Betz said.

Q: What book are you currently reading?

“I am reading and taking notes from a list of books,” Betz said.

Here are the books:

Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change – Andrew Solomon

The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton – William Leuchtenburg

1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History – Jay Winik

A Rage for Order  – Robert Worth

Geography of Genius – Eric Weiner

How We Got To Know: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World – Steven Johnson

In Defense of Liberal Education – Fareed Zakaria

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis– Robert Putnam

Q: Do you prefer an E-reader or a paper book?

A: “I prefer both, but it is a matter of convenience,” Betz said. “The only problem, is that I almost cannot read without a highlighter in my hand.”

Q: Where were you born?

A: Anacortes, Washington

Q: What time do you wake up?

A: “I wake up at 4 o’clock. On the weekends I go to a fitness center … and I also work out in the mornings before I come here.” Betz said.

Q: Do you eat breakfast and are you a coffee drinker?

A: “Generally something light,” Betz said. “No, never have been a coffee drinker.”

Q: Why are you so swagalicious? (Submitted by Sean St Aimie, junior at the University of Central Oklahoma.)

A: “What is swagalicious? I don’t even know what swagalicious is, so I cannot be that cool,” Betz said. “Whatever sawagalicious means, I am going to have to go look it up. Is that in the colloquialism dictionary?”

Q: Why do you have such a great appeal?

A: “That is for somebody else to answer. I cannot answer that, … My mother always said that ‘What you see is what you get’, is that in terms of consistency is that when you meet somebody you meet them honestly. You realize that you are not the most important person on the planet and that their story is really important.” Betz said.

Q: Did you have a job in college?

A: “Oh gee, for four summers or maybe five summers, I worked three and a half months for four or five summers in a bakery, though it was really a factory. You know the Wonder Bread and Hostess cakes, which are not little bakeries on the corner. It was Continental Baking Company, they were the parent company to Wonder Bread and Hostess Company.” “I made Twinkies, which was one of the things I did. I also made Snowballs, Ding Dongs, and cupcakes. Here is how it went Eriech. This is really important for in terms of education. I would come into the bakery and I had six two-week shifts. So every two-weeks I took somebody else’s job, who was going on vacation. This was people’s lively hood; this was not their summer job.” Betz said.

Check out a previous article about University of Central Oklahoma’s President Don Betz, titled Behind the Suit, Interview with Betz

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