In Memory: Dr. William “Bill” Tietz (PU PhD ’61)

Friday, June 26, 2020

A veterinarian who earned his PhD at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine and went on to become president of Montana State University, Dr. William “Bill” Tietz (PU PhD ’61), of Bozeman, Mont., died June 10. He was 93.

A native of Hinsdale, Ill., Dr. Tietz served six years in the US Navy, and then earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from Swarthmore College in 1950, followed by a Master of Science degree in zoology from the University of Wisconsin. He then spent time in the Arctic studying the metabolism of small mammals, and briefly worked at Baxter Laboratory in Illinois before earning his DVM degree at Colorado State University in 1957.  He then came to Purdue where he earned his PhD in physiology and pathology in 1961.

Dr. Tietz joined the Purdue faculty and served as an assistant professor of veterinary physiology until 1964 when he left to become an associate professor of radiobiology and physiology at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He later was appointed chair of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, and also served as the associate director of the CSU Agricultural Experiment Station before being named CSU’s vice president for student-university relations and then dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

His tenure at CSU provided valuable experience that prepared him for his next challenge, which came when he was named Montana State University’s ninth president in 1977, a position he held until 1990.  Dr. Tietz is credited with bringing to the Bozeman campus a research-oriented vision, an abundance of intellectual and physical energy, the capacity to weigh and take risks, and both a determination to set new standards of teaching, research, and creativity, and the skills to institute them.

His accomplishments included acquiring funds for a greatly-enlarged sabbatical-leave program, which raised morale and attracted new talent; reviving and enlarging the undergraduate Honors Program; instituting a widely-imitated writing center; elevating the university’s libraries to national standards; putting in place a core curriculum; and establishing an advanced technology park to draw young entrepreneurs to the Gallatin Valley, engage students in real-world product development, and transfer technology to the university’s financial benefit.  Dr. Tietz also believed and invested in diversity and inclusion at the university, increasing the recruitment and retention of under-represented students, the number of women in STEM related disciplines and the number of Native American students choosing to enroll at Montana State University. Upon his retirement, he developed endowed funds to create the President’s Native American Excellence Scholarship for Native American students who had been accepted into the Master of Arts program in Native American studies. 

Dr. Tietz received Honorary Doctorate degrees from both Purdue University (1982) and Montana State University (2020).  In 2007, Montana State University renamed its Animal Resources Center the William J. Tietz Hall in his honor.  In retirement, Dr. Tietz continued to serve both the local community and the state of Montana. He also loved and spent much time with his family and continued annual trips to the Canadian wilderness well into his eighties. He also is remembered for his love of animals and model trains, as well as being an avid woodworker and always having pearls of wisdom to share.

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Writer(s): Kevin Doerr |

Category: Alumni, Our People

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