Twenty years seems to have flown by as the Stegner Center celebrates that milestone in its young history and begins laying plans for what lies ahead now that we are relocated to the stunning new College of Law building. The new building, with its landmark sustainability features that merit LEED Platinum recognition, confirms the College’s deep commitment to the Stegner Center’s mission and will enhance its programming opportunities. I vividly recall, shortly after my 1993 arrival at the College of Law, early meetings with my new colleagues to contemplate the future of the natural resources and environmental law program, which had such a rich history among faculty and students at the University of Utah. And I recall my colleague Bonnie Mitchell suggesting that we rename the existing center for Wallace Stegner, noting his strong connections to Utah, the University, and the West’s landscape and people. With assistance from several people, we made the necessary connections with the Stegner family, and the Center has been moving forward since then, committed to an interdisciplinary approach to the day’s most pressing environmental and conservation issues. On a personal note, when I first met the Stegner family, Allison Stegner, our namesake’s granddaughter, was a young child, but she will be joining us at the 20th anniversary celebration as a newly minted PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.
Of course, a law school center cannot operate without financial support, and the Stegner Center has been most fortunate in gaining vital supporters along the way. Early on the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation provided substantial seed funding that enabled us to establish the Wallace Stegner Chair and to hire an associate director to oversee Center programming. The R. Harold Burton Foundation has been a stalwart supporter of the Center’s annual symposium from the outset, enabling us to consistently present first-class programs. The Cultural Vision Fund has provided support for the Center’s diverse programs, while the Alternative Visions Fund and the AHE/CI Trust have respectively provided vital funding for the Environmental Dispute Resolution program and the Research Fellows program, enabling the Stegner Center to broaden its focus and impact. Through the Chicago Community Trust, we recently received The ESRR Endowment Fund for the Wallace Stegner Center that has helped to stabilize our programs, while a new ESRR-funded scholarship endowment will enable the law school to recruit promising students seeking a career in natural resources and environmental law. As noted in the Donor List, many others have also contributed significantly to the Stegner Center, helping to support student scholarships, like the O’Hara Fellowship, student moot court teams, and other activities and programs. We are most grateful to all.
The Stegner Center’s growth has also been driven by a dedicated and accomplished faculty and engaged students, whose collective work has secured much-deserved recognition for the College of Law, as reflected in its recent top ten U.S. News ranking among environmental law programs. This newsletter highlights the individual accomplishments of our faculty and students, while also updating the Center’s programming for the 2015-16 academic year and the activities of the Environmental Dispute Resolution program, the Research Fellows program, and the Environmental Law clinic. We are looking forward to another busy year that includes Professor Dave Owens as our Stegner Center Young Scholar and our 21st annual symposium on “Green Infrastructure and Resilient Cities: New Challenges and New Solutions.” We will also continue hosting noon hour programs that include a photo presentation on environmental impacts at the US – Mexico border and air quality in the Salt Lake valley. Please join us as time permits in your schedule, and please share your ideas and support to ensure the Stegner Center’s next twenty years are even more productive than its first twenty.