It is with deep shock and sadness that we share the news that Dr. Lamont (Monty) Hempel, founding president of Blue Planet United and Blue Planet Films, passed away on December 4th, following a brief illness. He was 69 years old.
Monty was a documentary filmmaker. He made more than 25 films, specializing in works about coral ecosystems, sustainability, wilderness preservation, and biodiversity.
In addition to his filmmaking, he was the University of Redlands Hedco Chair in Environmental Studies and the Director of the Center for Environmental Studies,
Monty truly believed that people would join together, build sustainable communitites, and create a better world. May he and his work for environmental justice live on in our lives as the best way to memorialize Monty and perpetuate his passion and purpose.
One colleague reflected: “We have lost a pillar of the environmental community, a towering intellect, and a kind and gentle friend. My heart grieves with you all.”
Monty joined the Redlands College of Arts and Sciences faculty in 1999 and, as the Hedco Chair, directed the transformative growth of environmental programs at the University, including creating the Department of Environmental Studies, curriculum development in the former Whitehead College, and the Redlands Institute. Monty also chaired the Sustainability Council of the University.
Each year for the last 19 years, he took students to the tiny island nation of Palau, to study sustainability in action in a place known for its beautiful fragile coral reefs and traditional culture trying to withstand the ravages of modern society. He was devoted to young people and believed they were the promise for the future.
Monty’s films and teaching focused on environmental science and policy, with particular emphasis on issues of climate disruption, marine environmental protection, and international environmental governance. His professional work, strongly interdisciplinary, was guided by the goal of pragmatic idealism.