As Director Bob Keiter enjoys his well-earned sabbatical during the 2016-2017 academic year, I am honored to step in as Acting Director of the Wallace Steger Center for Land, Resources, and Environment as it cruises into its third and very active decade. This is my fifth year as a tenured professor of law here at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, and it has been my increasing delight over those five years to be able to return my energies and focus to the environmental and natural resource issues of the West, especially in collaboration with my many colleagues in the Stegner Center. As you will read in this newsletter, the Center’s work has recently encompassed a variety of public lands issues in Utah and the Mountain West, the expanded negotiations and training run through our Environmental Dispute Resolution program, and attention to water and climate issues in this region. In the last half year, moreover, we have celebrated the College of Law’s new green building both as part of the 21st Annual Stegner Center Symposium in March 2016, “Green Infrastructure, Resilient Cities: New Challenges, New Solutions” and at the August “One Year” celebration, where the College of Law officially announced the building’s LEED Platinum status.
Among other things, the College of Law’s move to our new building has allowed the Stegner Center to expand its technological capabilities. Most noticeably, we are now able to “live stream” many of our lunchtime Green Bag programs and Stegner Lectures, allowing us to reach law schools and other groups across the country. Moreover, our archive of Stegner program videos is now searchable, providing much easier access to the Center’s excellent programming of the past. We have already been employing these technologies this year with speakers Eugenia Kalnay and Jordan Fisher Smith, and they will be available for several future programs, including our Distinguished Young Environmental Scholar Sanne Knudsen of the University of Washington School of Law, who will be giving two lectures in November 2016.
At the same time, however, the Stegner Center strives always to enrich our own students’ and our community’s learning experiences. The September 2016 visit of John Cruden, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, underscored the Center’s commitment to these goals, especially given Mr. Cruden’s generosity in spending two additional hours with our students in the Natural Resources Law Forum. The Center’s 22nd Annual Stegner Symposium in March 2017 will be another such event, focusing on “Water in the West: Untapped Solutions” and the many emerging innovations to accommodate increasing demand for water in the midst of a shrinking water supply.
As Professor Keiter has often pointed out, the Stegner Center cannot operate without financial support, and we appreciate the many donors who make our programs possible. 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. In 2016, the ESRR significantly increased its endowment funding of the Center, with priorities for the Environmental Dispute Resolution Center and the Research Fellows Program, all of which are highlighted in this newsletter. Finally, 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.