Dear PitE Community,

Please join me in celebrating the incredible contributions and accomplishments of our Class of 2020 Graduating Class! This year, our program is graduating its largest class ever, with over 135 Environment majors and nearly 150 students in one of our five minors. Our growing ranks highlight the importance and urgency of numerous environmental challenges today. I am confident that the graduates from our program are ready to tackle the multiple, complex environmental issues currently facing our planet.

Our graduates are entering into a world facing incredible public health and economic crises. The future is uncertain and it is unclear what the next few months, and even the next few years, will look like. The pandemic has further underscored the many injustices in our society that desperately need to be addressed and our environmental challenges will continue even when the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. In the face of these realities, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the scope and scale of the advances we need to make. Nevertheless, there are plenty of reasons to have hope.

It is important to remember that disruption spurs innovation. Major crises create opportunities for major change. If there is a silver lining, the pandemic has shown us alternate pathways to provide services and conduct business in ways that have drastically lowered energy consumption, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and improved the quality of our skies. It has shown us the resilience of ecosystems and their ability to rebound when human disturbance is reduced. We have been presented with an extraordinary opportunity to build a more just and sustainable world.

I have every confidence that our graduates are well-equipped to thrive in this world poised for major long-term change. I look forward to seeing how each of you will to use your experiences at UofM to create a better society and healthier planet. I have been incredibly impressed with this class’ desire to truly make a difference, be resilient in the face of difficulties, and find creative solutions to problems. Many of our students are deeply engaged in environmental activities that extend well beyond the classroom. Over the last few years, our undergrads have led the charge to push for major environmental initiatives at our university. In addition to contributing to efforts on recycling and composting, as well as reduction of energy and water consumption, our students’ persistent efforts have helped shape the university’s path forward toward meeting its goal of carbon neutrality. We still have a long way to go, both as a university and as a society, but I am excited to continue to work with all of you to take on these challenges together.

To all of our graduates, please be sure to keep in touch as you embark on your various upcoming adventures. You will always have a home in the Dana Building and I look forward to seeing you again when you’re next able to come back to campus and celebrating all of your future accomplishments.

Congratulations Graduates of the Class of 2020. Go Blue!


Shelie Miller
Jonathan W. Bulkley Collegiate Professor in Sustainable Systems
Director, Program in the Environment
Associate Professor, School for Environment and Sustainability


Each year, PitE awards those who's hard work and dedication are continously recognized throughout the program. Below is a list of this year's award recipients:

Outstanding Instructor - Stacy Coyle

This awards isintended to represent the Program's recognition of, and gratitude for, outstanding teaching.

Outstanding GSI Award - Kate Vogel

This award recognizes the commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentorship.

Outstanding PitE Minor:

Hallie Fox, B.A. with a major in Political Science and a minor in Environment
Angela Lin, B.A. with a major in English and a minor in Environment

Students chosen for this award are selected for their engagement with the PitE community and their leadership in the wider campus community overall.

Outstanding PitE Major:

Lauren Ayako Tischler, B.S. with majors in Environment, Economics, and a minor in Business
Jaylene Gutierrez, B.A. with majors in Environment, Sociology, and a minor in Urban Studies

Students chosen for this award are selected for their engagement with the PitE community and their leadership in the wider campus community overall.