Obituary: Professor Laurence Mee

Professor Laurance Mee, ideas man who had key role in birth of University of the Highlands and Islands. Picture: ContributedProfessor Laurance Mee, ideas man who had key role in birth of University of the Highlands and Islands. Picture: Contributed
Professor Laurance Mee, ideas man who had key role in birth of University of the Highlands and Islands. Picture: Contributed
Born: 14 February, 1951, in Ipswich. Died: August, 2014, in Inverness, aged 63.

IT IS with a deeply heavy heart that we have to announce the unexpected death of our wonderful director, Professor Laurence Mee FRSC, on the afternoon of Wednesday, 13 August, 2014. Laurence had suffered a severe stroke on Tuesday 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.

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Laurence joined the Scottish Association for Marine Science (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 co-ordinator 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 multi-disciplinary 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 adviser 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 organisation 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 Prof Axel Miller in continuing to protect Laurence’s invaluable work.”

Prof 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.”

We have set up an online memorial site to allow his many friends, colleagues and family members to share our grief and memories to allow us to celebrate Laurence’s outstanding life and big personality with words and photos:


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