MSU Education Professor Dies in Landslide in Nepal

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN — An associate professor at Montana State University died of injuries suffered in a landslide in Nepal, where she was leading a group of students taking an honors program course.

Betsy Palmer, 54, was flown to a hospital in Katmandu and died of her injuries on Monday.

Palmer and 16 students were on an extended trek to a remote village in the Arun River Valley in the Himalayas when the landslide hit, university spokesman Tracy Ellig said. None of the students was injured.

Palmer arrived at MSU in 2001 and was an associate professor of education who taught statistics and research methods. She was leading a Great Expectations class of juniors and seniors who were studying economic development and education issues in the developing country, Ellig said.

“We’re just devastated,” Ellig told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “She was extremely popular with students and will be deeply missed.”

MSU officials were working with the U.S. embassy and the offices of U.S. Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Steve Daines to return the students and trip co-leader Anna Greenberg to the United States. The trip was originally planned to last until May 27.

Palmer met her husband in Nepal in 2005. They have 5-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. She spent the 2011-12 academic year doing research in Nepal and in 2012 won the MSU education department’s outstanding research award.

“Betsy was a strong, spirited, amazing woman filled with graciousness and kindness for every person she met,” said Jayne Downey, MSU education department head and Palmer’s friend. “She cared deeply about her students and was passionate about finding ways to promote their success and well-being throughout their college experiences.”

News of Palmer’s death came just an hour before MSU’s memorial for Dewitt Latimer, the school’s chief information officer, who was killed in a motorcycle accident on May 5.

A university memorial service for Palmer will be announced at a later date.

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