, Muskogee, OK

February 23, 2014

Betz to give first lecture in series

— Dr. Don Betz, president of the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, will be the first speaker of the 2014 Great Decisions program held at the Muskogee Public Library, a media release states.

Betz will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday as he kicks off the 2014 Great Decisions series. The Great Decisions lectures are funded by the Muskogee Public Library Hultquist Trust and are free and open to the public. Betz will speak on the topic “Islamic Awakening.”

“Dr. Betz has participated in the Great Decisions program at the Muskogee Public Library since it first began in 1976,” said Jan Bryant, head of the Library. “He is a favorite speaker and has a loyal following of those who attend the Great Decisions.”

He is a graduate of the Harvard Institute for Educational Management and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of San Francisco. Betz also has a master’s degree and a doctorate in International Studies from the University of Denver.

In 1971, Betz began teaching as an assistant professor at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. He received the Medal of Excellence in University Teaching in 1991 from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

Over the years Betz served as vice president of University Relations at NSU, provost at Palmer College in Iowa, provost at the University of Central Oklahoma, and chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at River Falls. He returned as president of NSU in 2008, and in 2011 he became president of UCO.

Working for and with the United Nations on Middle East Issues from 1981 to 2003, Betz also chaired the development of a UN affiliated global network of non-government organizations focused on the Middle East peace process. A frequent writer and speaker, he has addressed international, educational and motivational topics. His life-long interest in global issues and his passion for promoting cross-cultural understanding has led him to more than 80 countries.

The topic “Islamic Awakening” discusses how Northern Africa was ruled by secular, nationalist or socialist governments with authoritarian streaks during most of the second half of the 20th century, even though Islam has had a long history in that region.  As a mainstream political movement Islamism is relatively new.

A broad set of ideologies united by the principle that Islam should guide political and social life the Islamist movements have ranged from peaceful democratic political organizations to militant jihadism. A spontaneous Arab revolt against long-enduring oppressive regimes has turned into an Islamist awakening whose political impact has yet to be fully measured or understood.  This has left the United States with the dilemma of how to encourage the fledgling democracies while quashing the dangerous radicals within their midst.