Betty Lentz Siegel was born in 1931 in the coal mining community of Cumberland, Kentucky. She attended Cumberland College before finishing her B.A. degrees in History and English at Wake Forest University. She went on to receive advanced degrees in Child Psychology and Educational Leadership from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Florida State University, and Indiana University. In 1981, Dr. Siegel became the first woman to head an institution in the 35-unit University System of Georgia when she was appointed to serve as President of Kennesaw College. She was the second president in the school's history and arrived at Kennesaw only one year after the school graduated its first baccalaureate degree recipients, having transitioned from a junior to senior college in the late 1970s. She was committed to the expansion of KSU's program and degree offerings, overall enrollment, campus facilities, and student life. Under her leadership, KSU grew from a newly four-year college to a university offering graduate and doctoral programs, intercollegiate athletics, and on-campus residence halls. Her tenure included the addition of new classroom, office, athletics, and event facilities, as well as the Campus Green, through building projects and land acquisitions. By the time she retired in 2006 after 25 years of service, KSU's physical plant had grown from a main campus of 152 acres to one of 240 acres, while enrollment had more than quadrupled. At the time of her retirement, Betty Siegel held the record as the longest serving woman president of a public university in the nation.

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