Montana State University

Department of Education Title

In Memory of Dr. Betsy Palmer

Elizabeth (Betsy) Ann Palmer, Associate Professor, Adult & Higher Education
(1959 - 2013)

Elizabeth (Betsy) Ann Palmer, 54, passed away May 20, as a result of injuries sustained in a landslide while traveling in Nepal. Betsy was in Nepal leading a group of 16 students on a course offered through the University Honors ProgPalmerram at Montana State University.

Betsy was born to James and Doris Palmer on March 6, 1959, in Monmouth, Ill. The fourth of five children, she spent her early childhood in Roseville, Ill. Later, the family spent time living in Kailua, Hawaii, before moving to Bozeman, where she graduated from Bozeman Senior High School in 1977.

Betsy received her B.A. in psychology-sociology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. (1982), her M.A. in student personnel administration from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. (1983), and her Ph.D. in higher education from The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa. (1999). Betsy worked at a variety of universities before settling in Bozeman at Montana State University in 2001. She was promoted to the rank of associate professor in MSU's Department of Education. An outstanding educator and researcher, Betsy was well published and received numerous awards and honors including most recently, the MSU Department of Education's Outstanding Research Award for 2011-2012 for her work in engineering education as well as her work in Nepal.

Dr. Palmer taught statistics and both qualitative and quantitative research methods courses in the Department of Education at Montana State University. Within the Adult and Higher Education program, she taught courses focusing on college student research and theory, student services, and college curriculum and teaching. Dr. Palmer’s research focused on college students and the institutional practices which foster improved outcomes for students. She was particularly interested in college student personal epistemology, non-traditional pedagogical approaches such as problem-based learning and service learning and multicultural educational outcomes. She was involved in several grants to improve the educational experience of engineering students. In addition, she also engaged in international education research projects.

Betsy had a deep connection to Nepal. While visiting the country in 2005, she met her future husband, Sangri (John) Lama, and was married in a traditional ceremony in John's village of Pandok. Betsy and John returned to Bozeman to raise a family and were blessed with the arrival of twins, Sonam and Tsering in November 2007.

Betsy had a passion for adventure and travel. Her hobbies included numerous outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, skiing, bicycling and scuba diving. She traveled extensively both in the U.S and abroad, visiting 48 of 50 states, and international destinations as varied as India, New Zealand, Central America and Europe.

Betsy was a devoted and nurturing mother to her children. Beyond everything else she accomplished in life, she cherished her role as mom above all. Her favorite moments were the quiet ones she spent with Tsering and Sonam; she loved them dearly.

Betsy is preceded in death by her father and mother, James and Doris. Betsy is survived by her husband, John Lama; daughter, Tsering and son, Sonam; brother, Jim Palmer of New Orleans, La.; sister, Martha (Kenny) Krein of Gillette, Wyo.; twin brother, Robert (Janet) Palmer of Palatine, Ill. and brother, John Palmer of Bozeman.

Mother, Wife, Sibling, Teacher, Friend; Betsy Palmer was a beautiful soul whose wonderful spirit will be treasured by all who knew her.

A memorial fund has been set up for Betsy's children and husband and contributions may be made at any branch of First Interstate Bank in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota, or by mail to:

Dr. Betsy Palmer Memorial Fund
c/o First Interstate Bank
P.O. Box 5117
Bozeman, MT 59717-5117

Please continue to join the MSU community and the Department of Education in keeping the family and friends of Dr. Palmer in your thoughts and prayers. There will be a campus memorial for her in the fall when many of her colleagues and students are able to attend.

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