SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University President Thomas Pleger passed away suddenly on May 7 after undergoing brain surgery in Petoskey, Michigan, according to a statement released by the university. He was 48.
Dr. Pleger’s tenure as LSSU’s eighth president began July 1, 2014. Prior to moving to Michigan, he spent 21 years serving throughout the University of Wisconsin system, most recently as Campus Executive Officer and Dean at UW Baraboo-Sauk County. He held a doctorate in Archeology and Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was a licensed archeologist specializing in the Upper Great Lakes region and the use of copper technology by prehistoric Native Americans.
“Dr. Pleger had an appreciation and understanding of the human condition, of the arts, and of global awareness,” said LSSU Board of Trustees Chairman Jim Curran.
“Tom knew that the value of a higher education is much more than gaining credentials and potential earning power. It is a catalyst for empowering those around you to find opportunity and a pathway to a rich and fulfilling life. He embodied those values and his life stands as a testament to the example he set. It was an honor serving with him over the past two years as board chair.”
Dr. Pleger is the first president to pass while in office. Interim Provost David Roland Finley will be assuming day-to-day operations according to a university release.
“Tom was a tremendous leader and advocate for LSSU as well as a personal friend,” said Finley. “His time with us was cut short, but his legacy remains through the many lives that he touched. The positive impact he had on this campus will be felt for many years to come.
He underwent surgery Friday, and was in the ICU recovering with family before passing early Sunday morning.
Details on funeral arrangements and upcoming campus memorials will be announced shortly. Donations to a fund in Dr. Pleger’s memory will be coordinated through the LSSU Foundation.