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In Memoriam: Jimmy LaVita

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jimmy lavita

Professor Emeritus James (Jimmy) LaVita passed away on Wednesday, October 25. His teaching and scholarship at DU spanned both the arts and sciences. Jimmy served as professor and long-time chair of mathematics and computer science, then as professor of computer science, and most recently, as a professor of social sciences in the divisions of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences with the anthropology department and emergent digital practices program. Jimmy retired last spring after serving the University for over 45 years, making him one of the longest serving employees of the University at that time.

With PhDs in anthropology and mathematics and an MA in folklore, Jimmy's education was incredibly interdisciplinary, much like his work with the University. He was a mentor to faculty in mathematics, computer science, and emergent digital practices. He also taught a variety of innovative courses in anthropology, emergent digital practices, theatre, and in the common curriculum. Jimmy's folklore courses were especially well-loved by his anthropology students.

Beyond his work at DU, Jimmy, with his wife Katie Elliott, founded and co-directed the 3rd Law Dance/Theater in Boulder. Together, they created original, multi-media, evening-length performances drawing on theatrical, classical, modern, historical, and traditional dance.

As a community, our deepest sympathy goes out to Jimmy's family and friends. To those who knew him, Jimmy was a true Renaissance Man; he was brilliant, creative, fun, and generous. He was an esteemed collaborator and colleague. Jimmy will be fondly remembered, and sorely missed as a colleague and, most-importantly, as a dear friend.

In 2016, the Carson Brierly Giffin Dance Library honored Jim LaVita and Katie Elliot with the Legends of Dance award for their outstanding contribution to dance in Colorado. As honorees, Jim and Katie shared their personal stories and the work that they have done in the community. Watch the interview with Jim LaVita and Katie Elliot.