Peter M. Wege passed away on July 7, 2014 at the age of 94. Peter was an amazing champion for the environment and supporter for the National Pollution Prevention Center (NPPC) and the Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS) at the University of Michigan.
As first Chair of the NPPC External Advisory Committee, Peter provided us with valuable leadership and inspiration for the Center’s work. He encouraged us to be at the forefront of new ideas and approaches for solving pressing environmental problems. Whether it was driving the first commercial hybrid vehicle to the University of Michigan Energy Fest on the Diag or challenging our auto board members to also produce hybrids, Peter was always demonstrating his commitment and passion for the environment with direct actions. We enjoyed the good humor and the levity he brought to our day-long Board meetings, which he interjected at just the right times. Each year for over a decade he organized a workshop bringing together environmental leaders from major colleges and universities in Michigan and elsewhere to collaborate on topics such as campus sustainability. The first workshop led to the Sustainability Assessment and Reporting Master’s Project at the School of Natural Resources and Environment, which provided the basis for institutionalizing sustainability reporting at the University.
In addition to Peter’s leadership on the Board, he provided us with critical financial support including core endowment for the CSS, the Peter M. Wege Endowed Chair in Sustainable Systems, the Wege Lecture on Sustainability, the Wege and Bulkley Fellowship in Sustainable Systems, Jonathan W. Bulkley Collegiate Professorship in Sustainable Systems, the 33 kW PV array on the roof of the Dana Building, Steelcase internships, and even the Center’s office furniture. Peter’s and the Wege Foundation’s generosity have been instrumental to the success of the Center in both in our research accomplishments and in training future environmental leaders.
Peter was truly dedicated to his alma mater and was very proud to receive his Doctor of Laws Honorary Degree in 2007. The phrase he coined, “Go Blue, Think Green”, is now widely used across the campus. We will miss Peter’s tremendous energy and passion and stewardship for the environment and even more we will miss his great friendship and warm and cheerful smile.