It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Decision Sciences Institute Executive Director Carol Latta on June 3, 2013. Since 1977 and her appointment as executive director in 1986, Carol worked tirelessly for the Institute. Her administrative leadership and organizational skills were instrumental in DSI becoming recognized as a premier academic association. (See obituary and remembrances below.)
We would like to update you about several ways that you can honor her distinguished service and remarkable friendship.
DSI Board members have approved a new annual award in Carol’s name that will recognize early career scholars in the decision sciences who have served the Institute and its goals.
The Carol J. Latta Memorial DSI Emerging Leadership Award for Outstanding Early Career Scholar will be awarded annually at the Decision Sciences Institute (DSI) annual meeting (each November) to one early career scholar in the decision sciences who has served the Institute and its goals.
The recipient will receive a plaque and a token financial award to be funded by DSI and its Carol J. Latta Memorial Fund (donations are welcomed, see below for more information).
To be eligible for consideration of this award you must be nominated by a faculty or an administrator, who must submit a letter detailing why the nominator is recommending the candidate along with the candidate’s curriculum vita.
Materials must be submitted by September 30th each year to the DSI home office:
Carol Latta Memorial Award
Decision Sciences Institute
ATTN: Powell Robinson
75 Piedmont Avenue, Suite 340
Atlanta, GA 30303 USA
A committee comprised of the immediate past president of DSI (Chair), the VP of Member Services, the VP of Professional Development, VP for Global Activities, and the recipient of the previous year’s award will evaluate the applicants based on the criteria below.
Criteria for Award
This award shall go to a scholar in the decision sciences disciplines who has earned his or her terminal degree (e.g. PhD, DBA, etc.) in the previous five (5) years. Evidence of excellence in research, teaching, and service to DSI may be provided as an appendix to the letter of application (limited to five pages). Such evidence may include documentation regarding Institute-related professional service (DSI committees, reviewing, session chair, track chair, etc.), teaching evidence (teaching award, new course development, etc.), and scholarly research related to the decision sciences (publications in Decision Sciences, Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, and other highly regarded journals in the decision sciences disciplines and presentations at DSI meetings). The awardee must be a member of the Institute in good standing.
These criteria will be reviewed annually by the awards committee, and recommendations will be provided to the Board for revisions to these criteria.
Guidelines for Contributions to the Carol J. Latta Memorial Fund
Checks should be made out to the Decision Sciences Institute, noted "Carol J. Latta Memorial", and mailed to the Home Office at the following address:
Decision Sciences Institute
Attn: Carol J. Latta Memorial
75 Piedmont Avenue, Suite 340
Atlanta, GA 30303
By Credit Card
Credit card payments can be made in one of two ways:
(a) Via telephone by calling the Home Office at 404-413-7710
(b) Via PayPal (this option can be used whether the account holder has a PayPal account or not)
Each donor will receive a formal, written thank you letter that can be used for tax deduction purposes.
Carol Jean Latta
May 30, 1948 - June 3, 2013
Carol Jean Latta, 65, a long time resident of Atlanta, GA but originally from Atlantic Beach, FL. died suddenly June 3, 2013. Ms. Latta is survived by her two sisters, Diane Latta-Brandstaetter (Ray) of Atlantic Beach, FL and Kathi L. Rivers (Billy) of Macon, GA, a niece, Tyler K. Rogero of Asheville, NC, two cousins, Nancy Comeau (Mark )and Perry Green (Margaret) of Conn., a goddaughter, Rachel McGehee of Atlanta and a godson, Chris Gailey of Maryville, TN. Carol was predeceased by her parents, Esther and Jay Latta, her brother Robert Latta, her cousin Tim Green and her life-long companion, Neale T. Traves.
After graduating from Wesleyan College in 1970, Carol worked for The Research Group in Atlanta with her friend and mentor, Jerry T. Horton. Since 1977, Carol has worked for Decision Sciences Institute where she was made Executive Director in 1986 and a Fellow of the Institute in 2003. Carol was also a Leadership Georgia graduate, class of 1983.
A collector of objets d'art from around the world, Carol enjoyed strolling through antique shops searching for the perfect curios. Those who knew Carol will remember not only her outward but her inward beauty, her warmth and sense of humor, her gentle spirit, her kindness and generosity to even complete strangers.
A memorial service will be held June 29, 2 P.M., at H. M. Patterson and Son Funeral Home located at 1020 Spring Street NW (404) 876-1022 in Atlanta with Rev. Ed Albright, Jr. presiding. A Celebration of Carol's Life will follow at the Grand China Restaurant in Buckhead, 2975 Peachtree Rd. (404) 231-8690.
In memory of Carol, you may make a donation to the Carol J. Latta Memorial Fund for scholars in the Decision Sciences who have served the Institute and its goals. Checks may be made out to the Decision Sciences Institute. Attn: Carol J. Latta Memorial Fund. 75 Piedmont Ave. Atlanta, GA. 30303.
See slideshow presentation shown at the memorial service on June 29, 2013.
You will hear many wonderful stories about Carol Latta when we assemble in Baltimore, but here's a personal observation. We've known Carol since she started as executive director, but we really got to know her as a person after we received an award in the Innovative Teaching Award competition in 1992.
Carol took the opportunity to charm and convince Julie and me to get more involved with serving DSI. She encouraged me to serve as at large vice president, then annual meeting program chair, and finally as president, and encouraged Prof. Julie Kendall, my wife, to serve as at large vice president and treasurer.
But I noticed something very special about Carol over the years. I've noticed that she really embraced all of the couples who came to DSI. She extended herself to every spouse that came to the annual meeting. She welcomed all of the couples to come to the usual Monday evening dinner she arranged at the annual meeting and made sure that every spouse who came to Atlanta during a board meeting or to a January board meeting would be an integral part of all of the evening's activities.
When I scanned the list of DSI Fellows, I noticed that I personally knew the spouse of three dozen Fellows. I also knew the spouses of many other active DSI members and looked forward to seeing all of the couples at the annual meeting. Reflecting on this, I can see why many of us love DSI as a society. The participation of couples in the annual meeting and board meetings is unparalleled. No other professional organizations welcomes and supports couples in the same way.
What I realized was that Carol Latta created a special family. Carol was never married and had no children, but she adopted all of us. After it was announced that Carol would be retiring in May of 2014, she expressed a concern that she would never be able to see us again. I know it was not just her professionalism and dedication to DSI that we will miss. We will miss her love for her DSI family.
Ken Kendall, Past President & Fellow
It is very sad news to hear that Carol Latta has passed on. She has meant so much for The Institute as a whole and for so many of us individually. I remember the meeting at San Antonio, when she was discussing with Dennis Grawoig, the “founding father” of DSI, her new position of Executive Secretary. As her duties expanded, she became Executive Director. She was a key person behind the scenes ever since, and all past presidents and so many members have appreciated her contributions. Six attributes that come to mind are:
- Caring, Loving, Supportive Personality. She treated you as if you are the most special person in the world when you are a member, officer, or committee chair, going out of her way to help in any way possible.
- Institutional Memory. Carol remembered the history of the Institute, decisions made in the past, and reasons for those decisions. This resource has proved invaluable over the years.
- Organization. Carol presented the Board of Director the most comprehensive meeting minutes and agenda, that helped navigate the Board through some difficult choices. She always had the Home Office thoroughly prepared for “show time,” when each Annual Meeting began.
- Greatest Hostess. Once a year, Carol would have the Board of Directors to her home after its meeting for a time of great fellowship and refreshment. She also hosted a dinner for past presidents and fellows after the President’s Reception which was well received.
- Kind Personality. Carol presented a kind face and help to all DSI members at the Registration Desk and the Home Office. Everybody felt welcome.
- Locating Meeting Sites. Carol had the ability to negotiate great hotel rates at wonderful locations for our annual meetings. Location and price has a positive impact on conference attendance.
Carol deserves a very special recognition this year at the Annual Meeting. She will be missed.
Larry Ritzman, Past President & Fellow
I was thinking about Carol's passing last week. Needless to say it came as quite a shock to me. I have known Carol for over 35 years, ever since I became a member of DSI fresh out of the doctoral program. Over the years our friendship grew into something special. Carol was a member of our family as it were. She was warm, affectionate and friendly beyond description, not just to me but to all that knew her.
To many and to me, Carol and DSI were inseparable. She had the uncanny ability to welcome people into the DSI fold and make them feel at home. I had the pleasure of working with Carol in various capacities as committee member, chairperson of various committees, program chair, vice president and board member, as a fellow, editor of DSJ and DSI president. In all these capacities, I had the distinct pleasure of working with Carol. She had a prodigious memory of all things DSI. She was a dear friend and colleague. Always sweet and with a charming smile, she represented DSI with pride and unequalled elegance. I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to her house in Atlanta, where, for years, Carol hosted a dinner for the board members. I was struck by her unique and enviable ability to make everyone feel at home. She had the ability to make everyone feel special.
The twinkle in her eye, the warmth of her smile and endearing personality will remain fresh in my memory so long as I draw breath. I shall miss her very much. I am saddened by her sudden demise. Please convey my heartfelt condolence to her family. She will be sorely missed by all that knew her and most keenly by those of us who got to her call her a dear friend.
Ram Narasimhan, Past President &
The staff at the DSI Home Office is still reeling from the news that our executive director, Carol Latta, unexpectedly passed away at her home on June 3. My last e-mails with Carol were, appropriately enough, about family. I had just returned from the Seattle wedding of my 26-year-old son, who was born three months after I began working with DSI. A few days before her death, I sent Carol a family photo because I knew how much she loved big festive times. She e-mailed back that she was sure that the "wedding was an exquisite and memorable event!"
Exquisite and memorable -- those words also sum up Carol Latta. She brought these qualities to bear with effortless grace. And DSI was certainly the main benefactor of her gifts during her 36 years of service, with over two decades as executive director. The high point of each year was the DSI annual meeting, when Carol was on call for every waking moment of four days, yet her infectious smile and attention to detail never wavered.
Carol was a people person through and through. In an increasingly wired world of e-mails and social media, Carol was old school--she preferred phone calls. She actually wanted to reach out and touch someone, not just exchange information back and forth. She also believed that every situation was better off enlivened by the kind of stories and background details (sometimes extending back 20 or 30 years) that you can't share in an e-mail. Tellingly, the stories were about the DSI people she loved and respected, of which there were many. With her passing, she takes with her an encyclopedic history of DSI.
What made Carol such an effective leader was, first, her intelligence to quickly grasp situations and find a process, usually involving collaboration, to arrive at an answer; and, two, her emotional IQ, which was off the charts. She worked with hundreds of DSI presidents and officers, understanding what made each tick and allowing each to flourish in his/her role. She always did this behind the scenes so they received all the credit.
She managed her staff in the same way. My 25+ years of service at DSI is a good example. I still recall my first interview with her and how she persuaded me that the low pay of a nonprofit professional association was more than made up for by working with smart, kindly academics and in an atmosphere conducive to raising a family. She was right. My life was much better for it.
Over the years, as I raised two sons and worked on creative projects on the side, Carol was always among the first to celebrate my achievements outside the office. She gave me the freedom to grow, the independence to telecommute beginning in 1990 (far in advance of most businesses), and the joy of allowing me to spend quality AND quantity time with my sons as they grew up.
Exquisite and memorable, Carol leaves a lasting legacy of professionalism, collegiality and friendships that make DSI what it is today: an association with an international reputation whose members rate the annual meetings highly because of the opportunity to meet friends and colleagues. An organization where her staff is absolutely committed to the organization's mission. Through her consummate skills and generous spirit, Carol Latta has made an indelible mark on higher education.
Hal Jacobs, Publications Coordinator