H. Paul Friesema, Leader in Environmental Movement, Dies at 77
Political science professor was ‘exemplary champion of the natural environment’
Friesema started his career at Northwestern in 1968. He was instrumental in developing its Program in Environmental Policy and Culture and organized and chaired the innovative Environmental Policy and Culture Program. He also co-chaired the university’s Environmental Council.
Friesema’s interests included natural resources and environmental policy as well as urban politics. He authored and co-authored four books, including “Forecasts and Environmental Decision Making” (Westview Press, 1987), 17 monographs and technical reports and some 30 scholarly articles. Much of his work focused on the politics and policy issues arising from the environmental assessment process, including examining how the assessment process can be incorporated into land use planning. He had also conducted a long-term study of the political empowerment of native peoples on issues concerning natural resources.
His interest in environmental issues endured throughout his 45-year career at Northwestern. He played a key early role in the development of the environmental movement and built a library of 20,000 Environmental Impact Statements, which he donated to Northwestern. They have been required since 1969 to describe positive and negative impacts of development, ranging from oil and gas development to transportation and urban land projects to the protection of wildlife habitat.
“Paul was a gifted scholar, a wonderful mentor, a superb departmental citizen and an exemplary champion of the natural environment,” said Kenneth Janda, Payson S. Wild Professor Emeritus. Janda taught with Friesema for more than four decades at Northwestern.
On the board of directors for the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian and an avid book collector, Friesema collected books for many years about Native Americans and environmental issues, which eventually found a home in the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian.
Friesema was named professor emeritus in 2009, and the University annually presents the H. Paul Friesema Award for Environmental Leadership and Academic Achievement to an exceptional student.
“My colleagues always paid attention to Paul when he spoke in departmental meetings about controversial topics,” Janda said. “We all knew that he would give voice to no hidden personal agenda. Paul always spoke in the interests of the students and the departmental faculty as a whole -- in that order.”
Friesema, an Evanston resident, was active in his church, Northminster Presbyterian, including serving on mission committees and directly serving homeless people in Evanston. He was always generous with his time and vast range of knowledge, inspiring his students, children, grandchildren, and others who came in contact with him to pursue their passions and become global citizens, as he was.
Friesema is survived by his wife Jane, children Sarah, Peter and Susan and their spouses, six grandchildren and sister Gail Farnham.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 12, followed by a reception at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2515 Central Park Ave., Evanston, Ill., 60201.In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 3001 Central St., Evanston, Ill., 60201.