In this frank and humorous interview, Dr. Betty Siegel talks with Susan Hoffman about her life, career and influences. She was a coal miner’s daughter in the mountains of Kentucky, but her profound love of learning and her abundant optimism carried her out of the coalfields to the tree-shaded campuses of academia. Betty Lentz, known today as Dr. Betty Siegel, was born in Cumberland, KY, in 1931. Inspired by her family and devoted teachers, she gained degrees in history and English, and psychology. Soon Siegel was breaking down academic barriers, becoming the first female Dean at state universities in Florida and North Carolina.
In 1981, Siegel became the first woman to head an institution in Georgia’s university system. As President of Kennesaw State University, Siegel would transform the school from a small commuter college to the state’s third largest university. With her open and accessible leadership style, Siegel was “Dr. Betty” to thousands of KSU students and staff. In addition to being a college president, wife, mother and grandmother, Siegel has also been involved in many organizations, setting an example of giving back to the community. In 2006, Siegel stepped down from the KSU presidency to enter what she calls the third act of her life.