Friday, January 28, 2022

Sustainability leader, MSU director Amy Butler dies at age of 66

January 10, 2022
<p>Amy Butler Kennaugh, Director of Sustainability for Michigan State University, died at the age of 66 on Jan. 8, 2022. Photo courtesy of Michigan State University.</p>

Amy Butler Kennaugh, Director of Sustainability for Michigan State University, died at the age of 66 on Jan. 8, 2022. Photo courtesy of Michigan State University.

Amy Butler Kennaugh, Director of Sustainability for Michigan State University’s Office of Executive Vice President for Administration, died at the age of 66 on Jan. 8. 

Butler dedicated a majority of her life to sustainability, serving as a leader in numerous environmentally-focused organizations throughout Michigan — most notably directing the State Energy Office and Environmental Science and Services Division during her 32-year tenure in the state of Michigan government.  

In addition to her public service, Butler held sustainability-related leadership roles at Lansing Community College and her alma mater, Oakland University. For her work in the sector, she was inducted into the Michigan Energy Hall of Fame in 2015.

Both friends and colleagues took to social media to mourn Butler in the wake of her passing. MSU Executive Vice President for Administration Melissa Woo noted her accomplishments and expressed her sadness in a tweet Monday morning.

Woo reflected on Butler's impact on and work with students at MSU in an email to staff. Specifically, she noted her mentoring of student teams that installed solar lighting, pollinator gardens and outdoor green walls throughout campus.

"She led a small but mighty team that envisioned MSU being recognized as a driving force in global sustainability and climate change," Woo said in the email. "Amy's endless enthusiasm for her sustainability work and her passion for improving our world for future generations will never be forgotten."

Woo also announced that the Executive Vice President for Administration units will be "establishing a commemorative tree at the university in Amy's honor so that future generations of Spartans can visit it and learn of her commitment to them, MSU, and the world."

According to an obituary from Mills Funeral Home, Butler was a lifelong swimmer. After swimming for Oakland University from 1973 to 1977, she continued the sport for decades. Her most recent swimming-related achievement took place in the summer of 2021, completing the 8.2 mile Mackinac Island Swim to support charity.

Butler is survived by her husband, Paul Kennaugh; her sons, Justen, Scott and Anthony; granddaughter, Vivian; sister, Sally; brothers, Corey and Jim; nephew, Richard; aunt, Maxine; and many cousins.

Memorial services will take place at 12 p.m. on Jan. 13 at Mills Funeral Home, Shelly-Odell Chapel in Eaton Rapids. Visitation will be Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. and Thursday at 11 a.m.

Memorial contributions can be sent to the Mackinac Women’s Club at 301 E. Jamet Street, P.O. Box 356, Mackinaw City, MI 49701 or McLaren Home Hospice.

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