LSSU president Thomas Pleger dies

Thomas Pleger

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — Lake Superior State University says school President Thomas Pleger has died following brain surgery. He was 48.

School spokesman John Shibley says Pleger’s wife, Teresa, told school administrators her husband died Sunday, two days after undergoing brain surgery.

A school statement says Pleger was taken to a hospital in Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday before being transferred to McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey.

The school says Pleger underwent surgery there Friday and was in intensive-care recovering with family before he died early Sunday.

Interim Provost David Roland Finley, who will be assuming day-to-day operations of the school, says he extends his “profound condolences to Teresa” and Pleger’s relatives.

“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.”

Pleger became the school’s eighth president in July 2014. He had previously spent 21 years with the University of Wisconsin system.

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.

Pleger encouraged collaboration throughout the region, meeting regularly with presidents of neighboring colleges and universities.