MAY 20, 2009

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Betz: Working Together, NSU Will Chart Second Century

Jan Gordon and Chancellor Johnson.
NSU President Dr. Don Betz is greeted by Regional University System of Oklahoma Regent Jan Gordon and Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Chancellor Glen Johnson.

Northeastern State University will continue to play a major role in the higher education arena, while working together with educational and community partners to meet challenges, said Dr. Don Betz in his inaugural address on May 1.

“Today is a day for stories, a day for faces, to remember rites of passage, cascading memories, snapshots in time for you at Northeastern,” said Betz. “NSU really is an intertwined collection of people’s stories. Stories about persistence, determination and true grit, hours devoted to teaching and learning, and tales of individuals, families, communities and entire peoples. This day is, in fact, part of an enduring memory of the power of learning, which changes lives and changes fate.”

Hundreds of NSU students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends packed the Jack Dobbins Field House to hear Betz’ message for the future and to celebrate his inauguration as the 17th president of the historic institution.

“This is the time for us to chart the second century and to live the promise of education that was articulated when this school was founded,” said Betz. “It is our time to live this story together.”

With its roots as the Cherokee National Female Seminary, NSU has a long history upholding the fundamentals of education for all people. That is something to be celebrated, Betz said.

“This is a place that is sacred ground for Oklahoma education,” said Betz. “I’ve always found that to be amazing, invigorating and deeply gratifying. We have such deep roots of teaching, learning and serving here. The re-emphasizing of those roots makes it possible for us to do our jobs.”

With new challenges facing the world, not just in the area of education, but also in politics, economics, the environment and numerous other areas that impact our lives daily, NSU will continue to partner for solutions and build upon the foundation of educational leadership established over the past century.

“It is clear that we cannot accomplish this work alone. No one can,” said Betz. “Not Northeastern State University, not the state of Oklahoma, not the United States of America. The call is for a fundamental reframing of our local, national and global structures, our processes and our mindset. It is a time for unprecedented integration and collaboration. We must find common ground because we are entering into a transformative phase in history together.”

Betz pledged to be bold as the university moves into the next century, finding inspiration from his predecessors who established the male and female seminaries and fulfilling the promise of education they made to the generations that came before.

Betz said that NSU would “walk the talk” when it comes to establishing a culture of learning. The university will put emphasis on building sustainable communities, creating global literacy and global engagement, and cultivating leadership in the next generation.

“NSU will serve as a hub, a nucleus for learning, leading and serving,” said Betz. “We are creating the next Oklahoma. We are a vital ingredient, as is all higher education, in society’s promise to build a brighter future.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, a 1968 graduate of NSU, said that graduates of the university have made their mark on the state over the past century, and that under the leadership of Betz, they would continue to do so.

“We have great pride in what has been accomplished at this great institution over the past 100 years,” said Edmondson. “We have pride in that history. We have pride in the number of students who year after year flow through the halls of academia here in Tahlequah, Muskogee and Broken Arrow. They have made their mark on the state of Oklahoma in business, government, commerce, agriculture, in every aspect of our lives. On behalf of the people of the state of Oklahoma, we have great faith in the future of this fine institution.”

Tahlequah Mayor Ken Purdy noted the historic connections between NSU and the city of Tahlequah, and said he looked forward to seeing those partnerships continue in the future.

“We stand committed with Dr. Betz and this university to make our community the very best that it can be,” said Purdy.

Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Speaker Meredith Frailey highlighted the historic roots of NSU in the Cherokee Nation, through the founding of the Cherokee National Female Seminary.

“The Cherokee people have always believed that education is the most empowering and enabling thing you can offer,” said Frailey. “We support your commitment to a greater learning environment and are willing to join you in tackling the challenges of educating the next generation of leader scholars.”

As Betz reflected upon the task at hand, he reiterated the need for collaboration and partnership.

“I take this position as we write the next chapter of living our promise, and I take it with the same spirit which was handed to the first Cherokee women and men who decided that education was an absolute essential ingredient in their success and the future of their people. I gratefully accept your charge, secure in the knowledge that we will chart this second century only one way — together.”