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Community Mourns Loss of Michael Deland ’69

Deland led the NE branch of the Environmental Protection Agency, served as environmental advisor to President Bush, and fought to clean up Boston Harbor.


Mike Deland, a 1969 graduate and celebrated environmentalist who led the New England branch of the US Environmental Protection Agency and spearheaded the fight to clean up Boston Harbor, has died. Hailed as both a fierce protector of the environment and a talented leader, he chaired President George H.W. Bush’s Council on Environmental Quality in the late 80s and early 90s.

“Mike Deland’s life stands as a proud example of Boston College Law School’s environmental service to the nation,” said environmental law professor Zygmunt Plater. “His dedication to environmental protection at both the state and national level will continue to be a guiding exemplar for Boston College students as they shape their own career trajectories.”

“He was the best person I ever worked for, with a gift for being both extremely nice as a person and boss, and tough,” added Jeffrey Fowley, the school’s adjunct professor of toxics law. “He always said to us, ‘When in doubt, we will err on the side of protecting the environment.’”

Deland, who suffered from a debilitating back injury that ultimately left him in a wheelchair during the later years of his life, once served as the chairman of the National Organization on Disability and headed up the fight to have at least one of the images of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the FDR Memorial depict the former president in a wheelchair. “It seemed unconscionable that children in the future would come into the Memorial and not know that President Roosevelt raised the country up-gave America hope-from a wheelchair,” Deland told BC Law Magazine in a 1998 cover story.

Photography by Susan Biddle.

Read more from the Boston Globe.

Related content: “David v. Goliath: A Modern Tale of Courage” (BC Law Magazine, Fall 1998)

BC Law Magazine Fall 1998