Farewell to a leader and welcome as the world comes to New York


Good Sunday to all of you,

We had just a hint of fall early this morning with fresh breezes and moderate temperatures. Summer refuses to take its leave, so a few more days that belong in July lie before us.

This week, UCO lost one of its most enduring, historic leaders. Dr. Bill Lillard passed away at age 87. President Lillard helped forge the institution we all call ours now. He led Central State from 1975 to 1992. He was a life-long educator and former Superintendent of Oklahoma City Schools. His legacy lives on in many forms at UCO. Among the most visible is the Lillard Building where much of the university administration is located. Equally significant is the impression he left on those who knew and worked with him to serve the best interests of the university and its students, faculty, staff and alumni. I thank the Vista for its prominent coverage of Dr. Lillard in its last edition.

This week the world’s countries will send their leaders to New York for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. Over the next three weeks, each of the 192 member states of the UN will have the opportunity to address the world from the green marble rostrum of the General Assembly chamber. This is a time of accelerated diplomatic exchange and dialogue with so many global decision makers crossing each others’s paths in a single location. Much of the interaction will appropriately take place out of the public sphere, but be assured this is a time of sustained diplomatic conversations with friends and others. We will watch for issues of significance as leaders offer their version of the “State of the World” from their respective. The full spectrum of leadership styles will be on display.

Many of you are new to UCO, and I know you have numerous responsibilities and obligations here beginning with your course of study. But I wanted to remind you of the annual Asian Moon Festival to be held next week. This inviting event is created by our Asian students who produced a memorable occasion last year. It is open to all of us, and I encourage you to attend.

Today former President Bill Clinton was the guest on CNN’s program, Fareed Zakaria GPS. He effectively made the case for optimism and studied global engagement in this time of challenge and change. President Clinton has created a highly effective international non-governmental organization(NGO), the Clinton Global Initiative, which connects leaders and resources with issues and areas of need around the globe. His success appears to be grounded in his international recognition, but equally in the example he has set as a private citizen linking human needs to those who can assist. Billions of dollars have been raised and applied to a variety of challenges from Haiti to Africa, Asia and other regions that have directly assisted millions of people. He is among the most admired men across the globe. He has matched his experience, many talents, and exceptional communication skills with actions that have earned him the trust of many in and outside the USA regardless of political partisanship. He is using his celebrity status to make a palpable difference here and around the world.

The weeks of our fall semester are evaporating as we move into October. I always look forward to seeing you individually and as members of our leadership organizations. Please say hello when we meet on or off campus.

I believe in you, and the lasting impact you will have, each in your own unique manner and style, as you continue to learn how to learn, lead and serve.

My sincere best wishes,

Don Betz