Month: November 2013

Leadership Communique 11/24/2013

Lessons in Leadership

Good morning!

It is a cold morning in Edmond with the promise of winter weather today. Be aware as you venture out as conditions could change even as you move about.

This is an abbreviated week at UCO. The Thanksgiving holiday begins on Wednesday, though I am confident you need not be reminded as you are fully aware of this welcomed break in the demands of the semester.

Richard Ogden, a prominent Oklahoma City lawyer and Chair of UCO governing Board of Regents, will be this week’s L in L guest leader. UCO is one of six regional universities in Oklahoma which comprise the Regional University System of Oklahoma(RUSO). All were originally normal schools, institutions dedicated to the training of teachers. Each has evolved over the past 100 years to become comprehensive universities. UCO, originally Central Normal, is the largest institution in the system.

Richard is active in the development of The Oklahoma City metro are and the state. He is highly engaged in his role as Regent and has developed a strong interest in UCO. We appreciate his leadership and welcome him to L in L. I encourage you to connect with him after his remarks. He is particularly focused on student achievement and success.

This past Tuesday, many of you participated in the Creative Oklahoma Forum, a day devoted to the cultivation and encouragement of creativity in its myriad forms. I have served on the Board for the parent organization, Creative Oklahoma, Inc., for years, and have watched the state’s interest in imagination, creativity and innovation grow to include supporters from education, commerce and government.

We believe that cultivating creativity is vital to Oklahoma’s development. I have attended parallel creativity forums in other countries, and I am encouraged by the efforts and energies here to stimulate and support Oklahoma’s creative future. We believe that creativity and prosperity are tightly linked, and that we should nurture a culture of creativity here in our state which will serve the interests of our citizens, but also attract interest and investment from other parts of the USA and abroad.

I am keenly interested in your sense of the day and the component parts of the program. Your input is relevant and important to me and to UCO. Tell me, Jarrett and Marissa what you think.

What did you find stimulating, informative, inspirational? For you, was it a day well spent? UCO makes an investment to insure your attendance, and your feedback is valuable. I was pleased that we were able to corral most of us for a UCO Creativity photo after the luncheon and address by the Rwandan ambassador to the USA. When available, we will share that group picture with all of you.

In my message last Sunday, I discussed some of the legacy of President John Kennedy as a prelude to the 50th anniversary of his assassination last Friday. The outpouring of reflections and memories over these days has been remarkable and indicative of the enduring impact this young president had on the people of his time and long afterwards. He is frozen forever at age 47 with a thousand days of leadership service as president.

He was a defining influence on the people at the time, especially young citizens here and abroad who responded to him with a powerful sense of service. This past week dozens of programs, special publications and commentaries have probed his life and death and analyzed why we still care a half century he was struck down. For many his legacy is to be found in the good works done by volunteers, government officials and political leaders over these decades. They are the change he championed.

And so are you. Part of the rationale that spawned UCO’s leadership programs and those found at many other universities was a response to Kennedy’s call to public service, in whatever form it may take. Your volunteer work while you are here at UCO springs from the same tradition. From the tragedy of his death has arisen an unshakable belief among many that we can and must grow the next generations of servant leaders.

At UCO we strive to create a culture of learning, leading and serving. Such commitments trace their evolution to President Kennedy. This a part of the leadership experience here that is designed to serve you as you, in turn, take up your leadership roles in society.

We invest in you because we believe in you.

May you have marvelous days of Thanksgiving with your families and friends. It will be December when you return with the semester’s end clearly in sight.

My best wishes to you and your families,

Don Betz

JFK 50th Anniversary

Dear UCO community,

I could not let this day pass without comment.

If you are 55 years old or beyond, today, November 22nd, likely holds a unique place in your life. You, and I, are able to answer the question, “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” For us at the time it was a defining moment in our lives. Historians and political analysts declare that it was equally a pivotal national and global event.
Interest in the circumstances surrounding that fateful Dallas day is eclipsed only by speculation about what our world might have been like had that motorcade turned a street early, had the shots not been so deadly accurate, had something been different to alter those fleeting moments captured on the Zapruder Bell and Howell movie camera.
We now know that in the minutes, hours and days that followed, television and TV journalism rose in prominence and relevance as Americans and the world never turned their sets off. We believed in the promise inherent in the vitality and vision of this young president and his telegenic family. Suddenly, that life was violently and instantly extinguished for all of us to see again and again. We can only speculate about the altered course of US and global history of the last half century had Kennedy served out his term, and perhaps another . At times when our contemporary world seems fractured and discordant, we recall the sense of national unity that emerged around this tragedy
Most of us can recite at least one of Kennedy’s lasting maxims, such as “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Many of us responded with commitments to public service, at home and abroad, by creating networks of non-profits and NGOs worldwide dedicated to assisting others. Others sought public office, government and military service as a personal response to the President’s clarion call.
What follows is an excerpt from President Kennedy’s American University commencement address deliver on June 10, 1963. Jeffrey Sachs labels it the “Peace Speech”. In the midst of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, Kennedy offered us a clarifying view of the world in our time, and our roles in it.
“So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.”
Some writers refer to the thousand days of the Kennedy administration as Camelot. Portions of his message and his legacy these 50 years on remain clear and compelling. Public service is a valued and noble life pathway; we are all inextricably interwoven on this place we call earth; and we are the change, and our collective thoughts and actions create the world around us. Perhaps a dimension of the Kennedy vision influenced your choices and brought you to this meaningful service in public education.
Fifty years from now, I am confident that scholars, political leaders, and school children, each in their own way, will discover a gem of hope and inspiration in the life and words of this fallen president.
My best wishes to each of you,

Don Betz

Leadership Communique, 11/17/2013

Lessons in Leadership

Good morning,

Sunday in mid November and it will be 70 degrees on the UCO campus in Edmond. It is hard to imagine a more attractive recipe for a fall weekend. Our trees and shrubs are clinging to the last of their vivid colors, as the wind finishes them off. Last week’s morning chill ended the growth and bloom cycles of most outdoor plants. Fall is here and winter is waiting on the sidelines.

Michael Carolina, the Executive Director of OCAST (Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology) was gracious in again accepting our invitation to spend time in our L in L format. His pathway and accomplishments have distinguished him among Oklahoma and national colleagues. OCAST’s public service mission and program impact the state and its institutions, including UCO. I appreciate Michael’s expertise on the importance of technology in our future, and his ability to effectively communicate its relevance to virtually all aspects of our lives life and society. He is an exceptional mentor and it would be valued added-opportunity to spend to with him and OCAST, perhaps as an intern.

A second guest here this week, which you did not attend, was the keynote speaker for the annual Oklahoma Women in Higher Education conference. She is General Rita Aragon, currently serving on Governor Mary Fallin’s Cabinet as Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs. Rita, a UCO double graduate, is a powerful spokesperson on military issues, and also a major proponent for education and degree completion. Her energy and indomitable spirit are apparent from the first few moments with her. She is an articulate speaker with a reputation of “telling it like it is”. Her comments to the assembled educators were enthusiastically received, and would have been highly relevant to L. l and our focus on personal and collaborative leadership development. Some of you may have met the General in the past. She is an avid UCO supporter, and I encourage you to connect with her during one of her forthcoming visits to the campus. Persistence, service and integrity are among the characteristics she most often cites as lasting leadership values to be cultivated throughout life.

If you were 55 years old or older (and obviously you are not), you would undoubtedly be able to answer this question. “Where were you when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated?” It was a defining moment in modern American history and in global affairs as well. Should you have looked at television over the past few weeks, you would have spotted an increasing number of programs devoted to the moment, the man, his family and the pivotal times in which this cataclysmic event occurred.

It has been one half century since that sunny day in Dallas, 50 years since all seemed to change in a matter of moments. It was also a momentous time for TV and television journalism, as almost all of America watched a screen somewhere for over 30 straight hours.

TV was not what you observe today. There were few networks and limited technology by today’s multi-platform expectations. TV and the dean of on screen journalists, Walter Cronkite, guided the nation through this trauma with strict standards of professionalism, expertise and excellence. His work and those of his colleagues bears scant resemblance to the talking heads that appear hour after hour on dozens of sites offering instant analysis and expertise on issues and events even as they are unfolding. It was a different time and a different measure of journalistic responsibility.

Thousands of books and articles, documentaries and dramatic films have been produced over these years attempting to sort of the event and its implications. New insights seem to emerge anew, particularly as we cross the half century mark since JFK’s death.

There are many perspectives on the time and the man and what might have been. Though he was president for only thousand days, Kennedy’s enduring influence is undeniable. There is a entire generation, Americans and others, who answered his inaugural challenge, each in his/her own way. “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

The clarion call to public service, do do something for others, to be part of a mission larger and profoundly more important than oneself, was heard and embraced by millions. Implicit in the Kennedy ethos was the sense of hope based on one serving the needs of others. Around UCO, and other places, this call is termed “be the change”, paraphrasing the thoughts and words of many including Mahatma Gandhi.

President Kennedy exhorted us to give the best of us in what we do for the sake and welfare of others in our neighborhood, community, state, country and in the world. This call to service is blind to borders and other culturally-imposed barriers intended to divide us. His was to actively shape the world we wanted, and to do so together.

And so we hear it today, each in our own way. The leadership programs in which you are members have connections that reach back to the days of John Kennedy, and the promise his election, words and actions held out for many, here in the USA, and far beyond.

On June 10, 1963, President Kennedy delivered the commencement address at American University. It has been often citied since as a call for peace in the midst of the Cold War with the USSR. It is replete with memorable insights.

In his opening remarks, he quoted John Masefield commenting on the nature of education and the role of the university. “There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university…a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see”.

I encourage you to find time this week to learn more about John Kennedy and his legacy. There will be many choices across the media and in print from which to chose.

Wishing you a productive week,

Don Betz

Leadership Communique, 11/10/2013

Lessons in Leadership

Good morning to each of you. It is Sunday morning once again.

We are appreciative that Tom Emerick was able to join you those at the Tuesday session. His corporate experience is invaluable as relevant perspective for many of you will navigate corporate career paths.

You also had the opportunity to spend some time in the past days with Dr. John Barthell, UCO’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. He is our chief academic officer and responsible for faculty and the academic curriculum. John coordinates with the deans of our colleges and directors of our special programs, such as ACM@UCO and the Forensic Science Institute, among others.

John has been a valued member of the UCO community for over 18 years, including 8 as a highly successful Dean of the College of Mathematics and Science. Among his many talents and accomplishments, John is well-known as a research biologist and a humanist with a strong philosophical orientation. He many have mentioned this to you, but John was a speaker at the annual Thoreau conference this past summer at Waldon Pond in Massachusetts. John is a valued colleague, a highly-regarded teacher and researcher and a collaborative leader. I guarantee that you will be enriched by your interaction with him, as with many of UCO’s accomplished and dedicated educators.

The panorama of activities and events here at UCO spends virtually every interest. This past week at “China Night”, our students offered an amazing array of cultural and musical talent to a packed Constitution Hall. The annual International Festival will fill the ballrooms at the Nigh this coming Thursday, November 14th from 11:00am – 2:30pm. Literally hundreds of our international students have prepared cultural displays, presentations and culinary delights from their countries and cultures spanning the globe. I encourage you to attend and to explore the rich variety of peoples and cultures and that are to be discovered here at UCO.

Last week we were also honored to host former US Ambassador John Limbert for a presentation and dinner. Amb Limbert is a 32-year career foreign service officer with extensive experience in the Middle East. His interest began whether served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Iran in the 1960s.

Amb Limbert appeared at UCO on the 34th anniversary of the storming of the US embassy in Tehran, Iran, a watershed date in US-Iranian relations and for the ambassador. He was among the 52 Americans held captive there for 444 days in Iran. They were released at the moment that President Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president.

John Limbert presented an insightful overview of US-Iran relations and the importance to both countries and peoples to end this protracted period of estrangement. At this moment, there are historic contacts underway between Iran and the US and other nations on uranium enrichment and sanctions. This amount of direct contact has not happened since the 1979 Iranian revolution. Limbert does not believe that the two nations and peoples, which enjoyed amicable connections in the past, must remain implacable enemies.

His presence here at UCO offered our community a unique perspective on a serious issue.

In last week’s message, I included a comment from Mark Twain on “doing right”.

Here is another from the Hannibal, Missouri sage:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness”.

This week you can span the globe right here at UCO Nigh Center on November 14th when we will enjoy the annual International Festival.

I hope our paths cross there. I wish each of you a marvelous week.

Don Betz

Week 10 Presentation – Tom Emerick

Tom mentioned several key points during his presentation. I would like you to focus on his story concerning his interview with Sam Walton. He discussed his interview was five hours long and asked him questions concerning the car he drove, what he does when he wakes up in the morning, etc. Was this line of questions appropriate for a job interview? What should an employer be most interested in when interviewing a potential employee?