Jan. 19, 1916:
BA, Valparaiso University,
Instructor of History,
Appointed to the Texas Prison Board
Mar. 1, 1962:
Appointed director and chief of chaplains for the Texas Department of Corrections
Professor of Criminal Justice,
Dec. 4, 1991:
George John Beto was a criminal justice expert, teacher, and Lutheran minister.
Beto received a BA in 1938 from Valparaiso University (Indiana) and completed his theological studies there the following year; the school awarded him a doctor of divinity degree in 1989.
For ten years beginning in 1939, Beto taught history at Concordia Lutheran College in Austin, Texas. From January 1949 to June 1959 he served as that college's president. Beto was ordained a minister of the Lutheran Church at St. Paul's Church in Austin in 1944 and served for a time as the congregation's assistant pastor. That same year he earned a MA in medieval history from the University of Texas. In 1955 he completed a Ph.D. in educational administration at UT.
Beto became the director and chief of chaplains for the Texas Department of Corrections in 1962, holding those positions through August 31, 1972. Prisoners often called him "Walking George" because of his unexpected visits to both the inmate and employee populations at the various prison properties.
After retiring as director of the Texas Department of Corrections, he served as a professor of criminology and corrections at SHSU from 1972 to 1991. Following this retirement Beto returned to Austin to serve as chief of chaplains for the Texas Youth Commission, a role he briefly held (September to December) before his death.
The Beto Endowed Chair was established in 1979 and, since 1981, has sponsored a lecture series within the College of Criminal Justice. The Criminal Justice Center was renamed for Beto in 1992.
Beto’s name also graced the original campus of Concordia University at Austin: Old Beto Hall (1969-2008) and the Beto Academic Center (2002-08) were named after the former president. Other properties named for Beto include the Beto Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice at Tennessee Colony, Texas (Anderson County) and the Beto House, a halfway house operated by the Texas Youth Commission, in McAllen.