January 17, 2012 — Michele Straube, an attorney with more than 15 years of experience in mediation and facilitation in Utah, will serve as the first director of the new Environmental Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law.
The program will focus on environmental, natural resources, and public land issues at the College of Law’s Wallace Stegner Center. According to Bob Keiter, Wallace Stegner Professor of Law and the Center’s Director, Straube’s long history of working to resolve environmental and natural resources conflicts in the Western U.S. made her an outstanding candidate.
“Even among an exceptional group of candidates, Michele Straube’s extensive experience and accomplishments as a teacher, legal analyst and practitioner, as well as her familiarity with resource issues in this region, make her an excellent fit for the new director position,” Keiter said. “She will provide outstanding leadership as the new ADR program works to promote collaborative processes, overcome communication obstacles, and fashion potential solutions to contemporary environmental problems in the West.”
“I am honored and excited about this unique opportunity to build capacity for and expand the use of environmental and natural resource dispute resolution in Utah and the Mountain West,” Straube said. “There is so much collaboration already happening in Utah from which we can develop case studies and best practices, yet there are also many environmental and natural resource issues where consensus-building or mediation has not yet been attempted.”
Straube said that she will know the program is a success if, in five years, the majority of Utah’s environmental conflicts are being resolved through dialogue and consensus-building, rather than litigation. “The law school is in a perfect position to collaborate with the academic, business and government communities and other constituencies to address environmental problems in ways that build long-term relationships and produce enduring on-the-ground benefits,” she concluded.
The new program is being funded by a five-year, $762,000 grant from Alternative Visions Fund of the Chicago Community Trust.