Dewitt Latimer, an innovative thinker who had made a great impact in a short time as the Chief information Officer for Montana State University System and its flagship university, was killed Sunday in a motorcycle accident west of Bozeman.
Services are pending in Indiana for Latimer, who was 50 years old. A memorial is also expected to be held on the MSU campus at a later date.
Latimer died Sunday afternoon when the motorcycle he was riding westbound on Norris Road collided with a van. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
MSU President Waded Cruzado said Latimer had a keen intelligence and an ability to analyze and understand big-picture concepts swiftly, and he will be missed by all four campuses in the university system.
"Dewitt had only just joined the MSU family, coming to campus last June, but in that short time he distinguished himself for his good-natured humor, his incredible work ethic, his vision for transforming ITC, for his dedication to students, and for the easy way in which he made friends," Cruzado said. "He will be greatly missed by all of us who had the good fortune to know him."
Cruzado said the entire university is sending thoughts and prayers to Latimer's family, especially his wife, Kim, and four children ranging in age from 10-17. The Latimer family was to have moved to Bozeman this summer.
Since Latimer joined MSU last June 25, he was a member of MSU's senior leadership team and directed MSU's Information Technology Center and technology initiatives.
Latimer was a progressive thinker who quickly initiated improvements to the technology used by students, faculty and staff.
Among the innovations he launched during his tenure was a series of town hall meetings that allowed the campus community to learn about technology issues. He was pivotal to OpenMSU, a comprehensive effort to empower staff and faculty to optimize mission support success through long-term, sustainable changes based on campus input and data collection and analysis. He worked for better technology connection and standards within the four MSU campuses. He oversaw upgrades and improvements to several MSU technology initiatives, including MSU's Wi-Fi system in student and study areas, MSU's email system and protection of university data.
Latimer's interest in campus issues was broad. Among his initiatives was development of the texting system used during MSU football games and the development of a code of honor for attendees' behavior at Bobcat games. He currently was the chair of a committee seeking a new MSU Vice President for Student Success.
"His tagline on his email was 'gathering no moss' (which he wrote as: d), and that certainly was Dewitt, always thinking and moving," said Matt Caires, MSU dean of students.
Prior to joining MSU last summer, Latimer founded and was senior principal of Techwitt LLC, an information technology consulting firm with an emphasis in higher education. Previously, Latimer held leadership and management positions at the University of Notre Dame, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Kent State University and Clemson University. He held a doctorate in education from the University of Tennessee.
Cruzado said that from the time Latimer arrived in Bozeman, he had an instant rapport with the campus and the state.
"He loved it here," she said. "He will be missed."
Carol Schmidt, MSU News (406) 994-1966, firstname.lastname@example.org