MADISON-Donald Betz, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Okla., will become the next chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, following a vote of approval Friday (Feb. 11) by the UW System Board of Regents.

“My fellow selection committee Regents and I are delighted that Dr. Betz has accepted our invitation to join the UW System and to lead the UW-River Falls campus,” said Regent Charles Pruitt of Shorewood, chair of the Board of Regents Special Committee for the UW-RF Chancellor Search. “His experience and leadership will compliment the excellence and energy that is alive and well at UW-River Falls. We look forward to his arrival on campus.”

Betz is expected to begin his new post July 1, at a salary of $175,000. He previously held several administrative positions, including provost and vice president of academic affairs at Palmer College of Chiropractic, as well as positions at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., including vice president of university relations, dean of continuing studies, assistant to the president, director of university relations, and executive director of the educational foundation.

“It is with enthusiasm and a clear sense of service that I accept the offer to join UW-River Falls and the other members of the UW System,” Betz said. “I look forward to becoming a member of the community and university at UW-River Falls, and to building leadership teams to help students learn so that they can become productive, creative, ethical and engaged citizens.”

Betz’s administrative accomplishments include the founding of the University of Central Oklahoma Center for Undergraduate Research and the establishment of the annual statewide Undergraduate Research Day; the establishment of a Faculty Enhancement Center; co-founding of the Oklahoma Center for Arts Education; serving on the original implementation committee of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ American Democracy Project; and initiating the Center for Tribal Studies at Northeastern State University.

“I am confident that Dr. Don Betz’s diverse background will energize UW-River Falls’ faculty, staff and students; encourage continued dialogue with the River Falls community; and invigorate the campus’ commitment to excellence,” Reilly said. “I look forward to having Don as part of the UW System leadership team as we continue to improve this university’s quality, access, efficiency and effectiveness.”

Betz earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Denver. He has held the position of Professor of Political Science at University of Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State University and has awards for excellence in service and teaching.

The Board of Regents’ Special Committee for the UW-River Falls Chancellor Search was chaired by Pruitt, and included Regents Eileen Connolly-Keesler of Oshkosh, Danae D. Davis of Milwaukee, Jesus Salas of Milwaukee, and Brent Smith of La Crosse.

Reilly reports on looming federal financial aid cuts, baccalaureate degree expansion

The UW System was encouraged last week that Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation sent a letter to President Bush, warning him of the devastating effects proposal federal financial aid cuts could have on Wisconsin students, UW System President Kevin Reilly reported Friday.

Reilly reminded the Board that the members of the PK-16 Leadership Council – State Superintendent and Regent Elizabeth Burmaster, Wisconsin Technical College President Dan Clancy, Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities President Rolf Wegenke, and Reilly – wrote the delegation about their concerns over changes in the federal tax tables.

The changes could mean 5,500 of the neediest students enrolled in public and private higher education in this state could lose their Pell awards altogether, Reilly said.

Reilly noted that President Bush’s budget also calls for elimination of the Perkins Loan, the Leveraging Education Partnerships Program, and the Upward Bound and Talent Search programs, which serve low-income, first-generation students. Three thousand UW students received $5.3 million from these programs in 2004, he said.

He added that elimination of the Perkins Loan program could mean 19,000 UW students could lose more than $40 million in financial aid.

“All of these programs work together to increase access,” Reilly said. “These cuts would exacerbate the growing gap between our neediest students and those who have the ability to pay, and would undercut our goals in Plan 2008 to close the achievement gap.”

The board also learned that the state formula for distributing UW-WHEG financial aid grants will be considered next week. Reilly said the UW System would advocate for a formula that did not inadvertently harm the neediest students.

Reilly also reported that the Committee on Baccalaureate Expansion, or COBE, had submitted its final report to both his office, as well as to Dan Clancy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System.

COBE, a joint UW System-WTCS committee, worked to find cost-effective ways to increase the pool of Wisconsin citizens who hold bachelor’s degrees. The committee proposed 13 strategies to enhance student success and the quality of the education the systems provide.

“Ultimately, by increasing the number of bachelor’s degree holders in this state, we will see an increase in the average per capita income and an improved overall economy for Wisconsin,” Reilly said. “The Governor has already taken notice of the committee’s recommendations – as we noted yesterday, his budget proposal includes more than $1 million to begin implementation.”

Reilly introduced President Clancy at Friday’s meeting, and said the two would work together to name a joint implementation committee.

Read the COBE report

Regents vote to further Plan 2008 goals

The Board of Regents voted Friday to endorse the UW System’s commitment to diversity through an ongoing, 10-year systemwide initiative.

Plan 2008: Educational Quality Through Racial and Ethnic Diversity, was adopted in 1998. Friday’s vote gave Regent approval and direction to the plan as campuses enter the plan’s second phase, which addresses closing the achievement gap between students of color and white students.

In endorsing Phase II of the plan, Regents noted that achieving success in diversity is a responsibility that extends to the entire campus community; and that campus activities will emphasize outcomes, rather than participation in programs. Regent Gerard Randall of Milwaukee added that the system president, as well as the chancellors, is accountable for outcomes of the plan.

The Regent resolution directed the system to take several steps to move forward the plan’s broader goals:

  • Adopt systemwide a diversity accountability report card with measurable goals that will track the progress made by UWSA and the institutions in closing the achievement gap between UW students of color and white students; and this will be done by June 2005.
  • Institute a systemwide Diversity Award, similar to the Regents Teaching Excellence Award, recognizing excellence in diversity programming or achievement.
  • Working with the Board, the President will refocus the evaluation of Chancellors with respect to their work on diversity on progress with Plan 2008 Phase II and integration with institutional mission.
  • Subsequent changes to campus Phase II plans must describe their accountability process, including incentives and penalties for success and failure to close the achievement gap.

An item that would have required the system to conduct campus climate studies was removed from the original resolution, following yesterday’s discussion. Members of the board noted that such studies were too loosely defined, and could have delayed implementation of the current plans.

The Board charged campuses last year with submitting plans to describe how they will reach seven distinct goals. The campus-based plans are expected to be finalized by March.

Regents honor two departing academic leaders, approve committee actions

Two UW System leaders who are moving on from their service told the Board of Regents on Friday that higher education has had profound effects on their lives, and encouraged the board to do all it can to protect the future of the UW System.

David Olien, outgoing senior vice president for administration, asked the board to act “aggressively and effectively” to ensure the state does not damage the university by withdrawing the support it needs.

“I view education as the most important subject we as a people can be engaged in,” Olien said. “I encourage this board to open a new dialogue with the state Legislature so the people of Wisconsin can live out their dreams, as I, and hundreds of thousands of other have.”

Regent Guy Gottschalk of Wisconsin Rapids presented Olien with a resolution of appreciation on the Board’s behalf, as well as a citation from the state Assembly, saying that he had come to know Olien as a person of great integrity and loyalty.

Olien thanked his family and his “incredibly dedicated” colleagues for their commitment to further the university’s work. He will continue his service to the university through an appointment as a Regent Professor, during which time he will assist Reilly on selected projects.

In honoring Linda Weimer, outgoing vice president for university relations, Student Regent Beth Richlen of Madison said Weimer was a valued advocate for students.

“She would really stand up for students, and invite them to the table,” Richlen said. “She would highlight their achievements whenever possible.”

Weimer said working with students was one of the most rewarding aspects of her tenure as vice president, and said her many years of university service showed the wonderful returns higher educations can bring to individuals and society as a whole.

“We are in the dream-realization business.” she said. “We can make a difference. We are relevant.”

Weimer also thanked her family, the Regents, colleagues, and her “truly dedicated” staff. Weimer will continue to serve as a Special Advisor to the President for one year as she transitions to her new roles as a Visiting Professional in Residence at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and as a member of the American Council on Education’s Public Trust Initiative, an effort to increase higher education as a national priority.

UW System President Kevin P. Reilly presented both Olien and Weimer with President’s Medallions in honor of their service.

In other business, the board also:

  • Approved a revision to include gender identity or expression in the UW System policy documents on nondiscrimination;
  • Approved two UW-Milwaukee charter school contracts;
  • Authorized a B.A./B.S. in International Studies at UW-River Falls;
  • Approved a revised UW-Whitewater mission statement;
  • Approved amendments to the UW-Stout Faculty Personnel Policies;
  • Increased the budget for the DeBot Center Kitchen and Dining upgrade project at UW-Stevens Point;
  • Approved the design report for renovations at UW-Extension’s Lowell Hall;
  • Released a small parcel of land leased from the county by UW-Fond du Lac;
  • Granted authority for the UW-Madison Graduate School – Wisconsin National Primate Research Center to lease space at the University Research Park, primarily for AIDS research;
  • Approved a land use agreement and lease as it relates to the construction of a 380-bed, suite-style residence hall at UW-Platteville; and
  • Approved systemwide maintenance and repair projects totaling just over $4 million;
  • Authorized a search for a new chancellor at UW-Eau Claire.
  • Appointed Vicki Lord-Larson as interim Chancellor at UW-Eau Claire.


The Board of Regents will hold its March meeting on Thursday and Friday, March 4 and 5, in Van Hise Hall on the UW-Madison campus.

Related: Read Feb. 10 (day 1) news summary