President George W. Bush ’68 announced Monday that Roland Betts ’68, the senior fellow on the Yale Corporation, has been selected to join a presidential delegation to the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, led by first lady Laura Bush.
Betts, a classmate and close personal friend of Bush — they were brothers in the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity — served on the U.S. Olympic Committee for eight years and served on the board of directors of a committee to bring the 2012 Olympic Games to New York City, a bid that failed when London was chosen earlier this year to host the games.
Along with Laura Bush and eight other delegation members — including close friends of the President and former Olympic athletes such as figure skater Dorothy Hamill — Betts will host and attend events held by heads of state and the executive committee of the International Olympic Committee, Betts said.
The opportunity to interact with members of the International Olympic Committee is valuable given the possibility of another New York bid for the 2016 Games, said Betts, who has been involved with efforts to bring the Olympics to his hometown since 1995.
“We are still giving serious thought to bidding for the Games in 2016 for New York, so it’s important to keep touching the IOC bases,” Betts said. “Plus, it will be a lot of fun.”
The visit to the games, which are set to run from Feb. 10 to Feb. 26, will coincide with a Yale Corporation meeting in New Haven, Betts said. In his seven years on the Corporation, the University’s highest decision-making body, he has missed only three of 42 meetings, all due to his presence at the Olympic Games.
Although the decision on whether or not to miss the meeting was difficult, Betts said, he ultimately decided to join the delegation at the urging of Yale President Richard Levin.
“I was very torn, but this is too good an opportunity,” Betts said. “I talked to President Levin and he said, ‘Take it.’ ”
Betts has been involved in numerous community and development activities during his post-Yale years. Soon after graduation, he taught public school in Harlem for 10 years before moving on to Columbia Law School.
Betts is a prominent New York developer and the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Chelsea Piers, L.P., which operates the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment Complex in Manhattan. He is also a director of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which is responsible for rebuilding the World Trade Center site.