Stegner Center Administration
- Robert Keiter, Director
- Jan Nystrom, Associate Director
Stegner Center Faculty
- Robert W. Adler
- Antony T. Anghie
- Robin Kundis Craig
- Lincoln Davies
- Leslie P. Francis
- James R. Holbrook
- Robert B. Keiter
- William Lockhart (emeritus)
- Nancy A. McLaughlin
- Susan Poulter (emeritus)
- Arnold W. Reitze, Jr.
- Amy Wildermuth
- Steven E. Clyde, ClydeSnow Attorneys at Law
- James A. Holtkamp, Holland & Hart
- Megan Houdeshel, Parr Brown Gee & Loveless
- Daniel A. Jensen, Parr Brown Gee & Loveless
- Steven G. Jones, Holland & Hart
- Thomas A. Mitchell, School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration
- Clay Parr, Parr Brown Gee & Loveless (retired)
- Jamie Gibbs Pleune, Richards Brandt Miller Nelson
- Kelly Williams, Beatty & Wozniak
Environmental Dispute Resolution Program
- Michele Straube, Director
- Danya Rumore, Associate Director
- Mara Elana Burstein, Research Associate
Research Fellows Program
- John Ruple, Research Fellow
Twenty years ago, in a leap of faith and conviction, the College of Law launched the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment. “Although the College of Law already had established a significant reputation in natural resources, energy and environmental law,” noted Dean Bob Adler, “the establishment and phenomenal subsequent success of the Stegner Center propelled us to a national leadership position in this critical field of law.” The Center built upon the College’s historic commitment to natural resources and environmental law as reflected in an earlier Energy Law Center and the student Natural Resources Law Forum (NRLF).
In the early 1990’s, following a faculty commitment to highlight the natural resources and environmental law program, the College recruited Bob Keiter, from the University of Wyoming where he was a leading scholar on public land law. Professor Keiter and his new colleagues—Bob Adler, Bill Lockhart, and Susan Poulter—proceeded to restructure the environmental and natural resources curriculum and, working with NRLF, to reconceive the existing center and annual NRLF conference.
Following Wallace Stegner’s tragic death in 1993, Professor Bonnie Mitchell suggested renaming the Center for the Pulitzer Prize winning author, citing his lifelong devotion to the American West, its people and natural attributes. Working with Dave Livermore of The Nature Conservancy in Utah and Lowell Durham at the Humanities Center (soon to be renamed the Tanner Humanities Center), Professor Keiter connected with Wallace Stegner’s wife Mary, son Page, and daughter-in-law Lynn and soon secured their assent to an interdisciplinary center bearing Wallace Stegner’s name. As Page Stegner summed it up, “I was very much encouraged by Professor Keiter’s letter … particularly its emphasis on a multi-disciplinary program. The cross fertilization of legal, scientific, and humanistic thinking concerning the development of natural resource policy is essential to public land preservation in the west, and we would be honored, indeed, to have my father’s name associated with the process.” In March, 1995, the University’s board of trustees officially approved the Wallace Stegner Center.
In late 1995, the University hosted a formal “Bringing Wallace Stegner Home” event, where the Stegner family presented the late author’s papers to the Marriott Library, and the College of Law announced the new Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment. In his remarks, Professor Keiter paid homage to the legacy of Wallace Stegner: “Just as Wallace Stegner comfortably wore the labels of teacher, historian, biographer, writer, novelist, mentor and citizen of the West, and just as he perceptively conveyed the larger picture of western settlement and development, the Wallace Stegner Center aspires to carry on in that same tradition—to develop meaningful and respected conference series, research publications, and educational programs that see the West and beyond with the clarity and insight that Stegner brought to this task during his lifetime.”
In April 1996, the Wallace Stegner Center convened its inaugural symposium on “The Native Home of Hope: Community, Ecology and the West.” Dedicated to Wallace Stegner’s memory, the Pulitzer Prize winning author’s timeless observations concerning community, place, geography, and wildness served as unifying themes for an interdisciplinary group of diverse speakers to reassess what the West had learned from its past and what its future might hold.
A stunning success as a forum to promote public understanding of current environmental issues, the annual symposium has become the Stegner Center’s signature event. Subsequent symposia have addressed numerous topics, including climate change, alternative energy, sustainability, the presidency and the environment, Aldo Leopold’s legacy, nuclear energy in the west, wilderness, the Colorado River compact, the relationship between religion, faith and the environment, national parks, and air quality. Having generously funded the inaugural symposium, the R. Harold Burton Foundation has since then provided the principal support for each of the Stegner Center’s annual symposium.
Other Stegner Center programs include periodic conferences on such issues as the Wilderness Act, the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and energy policy, a regular green bag series featuring local speakers, and an occasional lecture featuring national speakers. Through these programs, the Stegner Center has hosted numerous luminaries, including Bruce Babbitt, Wendell Berry, Helen Caldicott, Jon Jarvis, Patty Limerick, Pamela Matson, Bill McKibben, Pat Mulroy, Naomi Oreskes, Zygmunt Plater, Joe Sax, Lynn Scarlett, George Schaller, Michael Soule, Alan Weisman, Charles Wilkinson, and Terry Tempest Williams, among others.
In 1997, the Stegner Center received an extraordinary $1 million grant from the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation to support the Center and a Wallace Stegner professorship in natural resources and environmental law. Four years later, the Quinney Foundation pledged an additional $1.5 million for the Center to support further growth and related staffing needs. This year, the ESSR Endowment Fund of the Chicago Community Trust established a substantial endowment fund to further enhance the Center’s programs.
Along the way, the College of Law established the Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law for J.D. students who focus their studies on environmental and natural resources law. The certificate, conferred with the J.D. degree, allows students to demonstrate a specialized proficiency in this legal subject area. And the Stegner Center has continued to support an LL.M. program, which has attracted students from across the United States and such diverse foreign countries as China, Nepal, Peru, India, Croatia, Italy, and Ghana.
In 2012, with a generous donation from the Alternative Visions Fund, the Stegner Center established the Environmental Dispute Resolution (EDR) Program to promote collaboration, mediation, and other alternative dispute resolution processes as a means to address contemporary environmental conflicts. Current EDR Program projects include developing a collaborative initiative to maintain a healthy Escalante River watershed, and promoting a consensus agreement on grazing practices in southern Utah’s national forests. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar took notice of the program by honoring the Escalante River Watershed Partnership as one of America’s Great Outdoors Rivers.
In 2012, the Stegner Center also established a Research Fellows program to provide objective legal and policy analysis relating to western public lands in order to better inform natural resource decisions. Ongoing research focuses on the public land Transfer Movement and state efforts to seize control of federal lands, Federal-State land exchanges and related reform efforts, the NEPA analysis process, and water resource allocation.
Today, the Stegner Center is home to one of the top-rated environmental law programs, ranking seventh in the nation last year by U.S. News & World Report. The Stegner faculty and fellows include more than twenty core, affiliated, and adjunct members who are actively engaged in such diverse topics as public land management, water law, wildlife protection, international environmental law, energy policy, water and air pollution, toxic wastes, ecosystem management, land use, and alternative dispute resolution.
Student opportunities are unparalleled. They can specialize their studies through the Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law, and they can compete several scholarships are also available, including the Patrick O’Hara Fellowship, Robert Swenson Fellowship, Reza Ali Khazeni Memorial Fellowship, Clyde Scholarship in Natural Resources, and the Behle Fellows Program. Recently, private supporters of the Stegner Center created a $1.4 million endowment to support additional merit scholarships for environmental law students.
Students can engage in collaborative, real-world problem solving through the environmental law clinical program, where they work with nonprofit organizations, private law firms and regulatory agencies on cutting-edge legal issues. And they can compete in the Pace University National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition and the National Energy and Sustainability Moot Court Competition at West Virginia University College of Law, where earlier student teams have enjoyed considerable success. Or they can participate on the Utah Law Review, which annually publishes an issue devoted to environmental and natural resources issues.
In conjunction with its twentieth anniversary, the Stegner Center now boasts a new home in the College of Law’s LEED Platinum-certified building. Fittingly, the Stegner Center’s manifold accomplishments played a major role in raising funds for the sustainability features in the building, which included a lead gift of $4.5 million from the Alternative Vision Fund.
As the Stegner Center looks to the future, it is well-positioned to play an even more meaningful role in understanding, educating the public, and resolving major environmental and conservation issues confronting Utah and the West. “By continuing to serve as a neutral forum that fully recognizes the multi-faceted natural and human dimensions of environmental problems,” Professor Keiter noted, “the Stegner Center will do its part to help the West, in the words of Wallace Stegner, ‘create a society to match its scenery’.”