SAMS in shock and mourning
It is with a deeply heavy heart that we announce the unexpected death of our wonderful director, Professor Laurence Mee FRSC, on Wednesday 13 August 2014.
Laurence suffered a severe stroke while on business in Inverness from which he did not recover. He was just 63 and to the last moment exuded an ocean of positive and youthful energy.
Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with his family and all who were close to him, especially his four children to whom he was a devoted and immensely proud father.
Laurence joined SAMS as Director in 2008 continuing an illustrious career, with previous positions at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, at the Marine Environmental Studies Laboratory in Monaco, as founding coordinator of the Global Environment Facility Black Sea Environment Programme in Istanbul, and later at the University of Plymouth as Professor of Marine and Coastal Policy and Director of the Marine Institute. Since 1998 Laurence was a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation. As SAMS is a partner in the University of the Highlands and Islands, Laurence was also instrumental in the birth of this new university.
Laurence was an ideas person who focused on the big picture, an environmentalist who loved sailing, diving, kayaking and swimming, and an outstanding communicator, who liked people and enjoyed interacting with staff and students.
Professor Geoffrey Boulton, SAMS President, said: “As leader of a successful independent multidisciplinary marine institute delivering research, education and commercial work, Laurence remained a productive researcher specialising in coupled social-ecological systems. Actively publishing research articles on the science/policy interface, Laurence acted as environmental advisor to the UK Government, the European Commission and the UN. His enthusiasm for the societal implications of the changing marine environment was unbounded. His planning horizon was far and wide; his future contributions to science and society are a loss to us all.“
Michael Gibson, Chair of the Board to SAMS, had worked with Laurence since he arrived at SAMS. He said: “Laurence was a unique Chief Executive, he worked in a very positive manner with all members of the Non-Executive Board and Council. He not only freely contributed ideas but also acknowledged those of others. He led the Executive at a time of great change and challenge to SAMS, and the fact that throughout his tenure he presided over an organization that was pro-active, successful and valued in such difficult times is a huge legacy to him. I will personally miss Laurence whose help I truly valued but have every confidence in Professor Axel Miller in continuing to protect Laurence’s invaluable work.”
Professor Clive Mulholland, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, who was with Laurence when he took ill, said: “This has been a great shock to us all. I have only known Laurence for a short time but I am acutely aware of the loss which will be felt by his colleagues at SAMS and across our partnership. Our thoughts are with his colleagues at Dunstaffnage and most importantly with his family. We are here to support them at this difficult time.”
SAMS is now implementing its clear contingency plans. Professor Geoffrey Boulton and Michael Gibson have appointed Professor Axel Miller as Acting Director of SAMS with immediate effect. With the guidance and support from Council and Board, Axel will lead the senior management team to ensure the continued successful operation of SAMS.
We have set up an online memorial site to allow his many friends, colleagues and family members anywhere in the world to share our grief and memories to allow us to celebrate Laurence’s outstanding life and big personality with words and photos: