Faculty Profile: Heather Betz
Albion’s dean of curriculum and chair of the Kinesiology Department is still a teacher at heart.
Dr. Heather Betz wears a lot of hats. Figuratively, that is.
She came to Albion College in 2011 as a new professor in the Kinesiology Department. Today, Betz not only serves as department chair, she is also the faculty representative for the College’s female student-athletes. And more recently, she added Dean of Curriculum to her list of responsibilities.
“It’s busy, very busy,” she said. “There are a lot of good things happening on campus, and being in this position allows me to help some of these things move forward.”
Yet, as important as the new assignment is, she remains a teacher at heart. And the subject of Kinesiology is always one that was especially important to her.
“I knew I wanted to study the body,” said Betz, a native of the San Francisco Bay area who earned her B.A. from St. Mary’s College of California, her master’s from San Francisco State University and her Ph.D. in exercise science from Michigan State University.
“My favorite part of the body is the heart—ask any of my students,” she continued. “I’ve watched how heart disease affects people because my dad died of heart disease when I was 17, and that had a huge impact on my life.”
So everything Betz has done professionally has been with health, and maintaining it, in mind. She worked in corporate fitness for J.P. Morgan in San Francisco. She oversaw health and wellness programming for LucasFilm, the production company of famed filmmaker George Lucas. She was part of a clinical research team studying abdominal aortic aneurysms at Stanford University.
A New Body of Work
But after earning her Ph.D., Betz knew she wanted something different.
“I didn’t want to go back to clinical work,” she said. “I wanted to be in an environment that was beneficial to me and I wanted to teach at a small liberal arts college. It worked out that as I was looking for a position, Albion was, too.”
More than a decade later, her love of teaching hasn’t ebbed. Indeed, it’s probably grown.
“These courses are hard and I tell students that I know they can do this,” Betz said. “I tell them that they may not believe it, but I am their cheerleader as they put in the work. The body is a complex machine and while they may think they can’t do it, I tell them that by the end of the term, they’ll get it. And that’s why I do what I do—to be with students, to help them find the path that fits them, and then to watch them grow as they go down that path.”