Chancellor to bid farewell to UWRF
April 10, 2008
UW-River Falls Chancellor Don Betz made an announcement Tuesday of his plans to accept the role of president at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.
Betz has been working at the University since July of 2005 and will resign his position on June 30.
Provost Connie Foster will be filling in as interim chancellor until the University is able to find a new one.
Foster said she was in shock when she initially heard that she would be replacing Betz.
“It was kind of a strange feeling,” she said. “I am very appreciative of the opportunity and of the confidence people have in me.”
Prior to her time as provost, Foster had been a member of the faculty and the chair of the health and human performance department, the athletic director and the dean of the College of Educational and Professional Studies.
Faculty Senate Chair David Rainville said that Foster has been a good provost and that she he believes that she has good relations with the University that will help in her new position.
Foster said she believes the University is in a better position now to find a new chancellor than the University was in 2004, when it had to attempt to fill the chancellor job after the sudden death of Ann Lydecker.
“We’re still going to move on,” Foster said. “Don has done an excellent job and we’re still going work on our plans.”
NSU is composed of three campuses located in Tehlequah, Broken Arrow and Muskogee Okla. The University has been looking for a president since the fall semester, when the former president, who had a serious heart attack, announced that he would not be returning to the school.
Betz was sought out by NSU to fill the position when it opened up.
“This was a search where I was asked to take a look at it and to consider it. And again, I know something about the institution even though I have been gone for awhile. I’ve paid a attention to what was going on,” Betz said.
The decision to leave River Falls was a hard one for Betz and it’s not something that he was looking to do.
“I wanted the people to know here that I was not out looking,” Betz said. “Sometimes these opportunities find you and you have to look them over. There have been other opportunities that have come along that Suzanne and I have decided were not right because we don’t, had had no intention when we came here of leaving. We like it here and we like we’ve been doing here. ... The bell rang, and I answered it. That’s all I can say. “
Kim Cherry has been serving as the interim president of NSU since the fall and will go back to her original position as vice president for administration.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Betz back in Oklahoma,” Cherry said. “I have worked with him before. I think his insight and creativity will help some of the major things going on at Northeastern.”
Students and faculty alike were not surprised by the decision of Betz to leave the University.
“Having Don here has been wonderful because of his charisma and vision for our University,” Student Senate President Derek Brandt said. “It’s not surprising that he is moving on to greater things.”
Rainville said he could not blame Betz for leaving the University to take the job to basically go back home.
Betz spent over 23 years working at NSU previous to his time at River Falls.
“I arrived there when I was 25 years old and I taught my first college class there ... my very first regular college teaching semester was there,” Betz said of his experience at NSU. “I have lots of memories of obviously going from being an assistant professor of political science up through the ranks and then being involved with a number of programs and then eventually taking on a number of different roles”
He said that he had fond memories of watching the campus grow from around 4,000 students to near 7,500. He also said that he enjoyed seeing a change in the quality of programs and gaining diversity in programs.
Besides the movement of Foster to the interim chancellor position, other changes will be made as wall. Terry Brown, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will be made the interim provost and Brad Caskey will be in charge of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Betz said he does not plan on being a stranger once he leaves the University. He said he is looking forward to seeing what is going to happen to the school in the years to come.
“A huge thank you to so many people who have made these three years absolutely phenomenal,” Betz said. “We all have these experiences in our lives and this one will count really high for me. I’ve learned probably more than I’ve given and I appreciate that from everybody who has made the difference along the way.”
To listen to an audio interview with Chancellor Betz regarding his resignation visit the WRFW Web site at http://www.uwrf.edu/wrfw/news.htm.