October 15, 2001 11:00 pm
Burr Betts ().
Burr Betts ().

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Eastern Oregon University biology professor Burr Betts is entering the schools administrative ranks for a second time.

Betts has been named interim provost and vice president of academic affairs. The position of provost is the second highest on campus.

Betts succeeds Bruce Shepard, who is leaving EOU after six years to become the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay.

Betts will serve as interim provost until a permanent appointment is made. A national search is being conducted.

Betts is looking forward to the challenges.

One of the attractive things about this position are the new challenges and opportunities it will provide, Betts said.

Betts has been a biology professor at Eastern since 1975. This will be the second time Betts has donned an administrative hat. In 1995-96 he served as the interim dean of EOUs School of Arts and Sciences.

He has the respect of the faculty because of the fine job he did as interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Shepard said.

Shepard will assume his position as chancellor at Green Bay on Nov. 1. A chancellor at a state university in Wisconsin is the equivalent of a university president in Oregon.

Betts will become interim provost on Oct. 24. He will continue teaching at EOU for the remainder of fall term. Betts will teach in the morning and work in the provosts office in the afternoon. He will serve exclusively as interim provost after fall term.

Betts has not decided if he will apply for the permanent position. He wants to get some experience before making the decision

Those who have worked closely with Betts at Eastern include Dennis Swanger, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. Swanger previously was a biology professor at EOU.

Burr is a very smart guy and a hard working individual. He is dedicated to the students of Eastern Oregon University, Swanger said. He is also well liked and respected by the faculty.

In addition to teaching, Betts has conducted extensive research. He is well known for his ongoing study of bat behavior, one for which he gets frequent speaking requests.

There are many things about bats that intrigue Betts. One is their ability to navigate at night by relying on sound.

Betts has had many undergraduates help him with his research projects. The many opportunities for undergraduates to be involved in research is one of the things which makes EOU special, Betts said.

I like the schools focus on undergraduates, he said

Betts also is impressed with the high degree of interaction between faculty, students and everyone on campus.

There is a sense of community, Betts said. This is not true at all small campuses.

When outside the academic arena, Betts enjoys officiating high school football and basketball games.

It is an outlet for me, Betts said. I like working with kids. They are fun to be around.

Community service is also an important component of Betts life. He served on the Union-Baker Education Service District Board for 16 years through 1997; has served on the La Grande School Districts budget committee and has worked as a Boy Scout volunteer.

Betts received his doctorate from the University of Montana and also did his post-doctorate work at the school. He earned his undergraduate degree from Purdue University. He was born in Denver and grew up in Indiana.

Betts and his wife, Donna, have two daughters, Amy, a resident of Umatilla, and Erika, who lives in Tacoma.