The Department of Geography regrets to announce that Dr. Harm J. de Blij passed the morning of Tuesday, March 25 due to complications associated with cancer. He had been ill for a few months and his situation deteriorated rapidly. He was 78 years old.
Harm was a classical geographer and a fascinating fellow. Born in the Netherlands, Harm had a unique range of educational experiences. He received his early schooling in Europe (part of it during the Second World War as recounted in his memoir Wartime Encounter), his college education in Africa, and his higher degrees (Ph.D., Northwestern) in the United States. He was a long-time faculty member at both Michigan State and the University of Miami, and also taught at Georgetown, Colorado, Hawai’i, the Colorado School of Mines, George Washington University, and Marshall University. His prolific publications included more than 30 books and well over 100 articles. His scholarly work has been recognized through honorary degrees awarded by Marshall University, Rhode Island College, Grand Valley State University, North Carolina State University, and Michigan State University. For seven years he was the popular Geography Editor on ABC’s “Good Morning America”. In 1996 he joined NBC News as Geography Analyst, appearing mostly on MSNBC. He was writer of and commentator for the original PBS Series “The Power of Place.”
Harm re-engaged in the MSU Geography Department about 10 years ago as a John Hannah Professor. He took that role seriously and was a huge friend of the unit. Among many other things, he was instrumental in the establishment of the new deBlij Scholars Program. The goal of this program is to create a $500,000 endowment that rolls over 10 $2,500 scholarships annually for exceptional students who choose to major in Geography. Harm was one of a kind and had strong feelings for MSU GEO and what it stands for. He will be greatly missed.
If you would like to make a donation in his memory, gifts should be made payable to “Michigan State University” and sent to:
The de Blij Geography Scholars
MSU Department of Geography
673 Auditorium Rd, Rm 116
East Lansing, MI 48824
Click In Memory of Harm to see thoughts from friend and colleague, Professor Jay Harman.
Feel free to share your thoughts about Harm in the comment box below.