University of Houston associate dean to lead UO law school

Marcilynn Burke

The University of Oregon will welcome Marcilynn Burke as the new dean of the School of Law following a national search.

Scott Coltrane, provost and senior vice president, made the announcement in a message to the campus community. He noted how Burke, currently associate dean and associate professor of law at the University of Houston Law Center, brings “experience and legal expertise (that) are a tremendous complement to the excellent work of our faculty.

“As our top candidate, I believe Burke will have an instant rapport with her colleagues that will inspire even greater achievements in environmental and natural resources law, dispute resolution and other areas of emphasis across the school,” Coltrane wrote.

Burke received her bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her law degree from Yale Law School. At Yale, she was an editor for both the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism and the Yale Journal of International Law.

After receiving tenure at UH in 2009, Burke took a leave of absence to serve at the U.S. Department of the Interior as deputy director for programs and policy at the Bureau of Land Management.

In 2011 President Barack Obama asked Burke to serve as acting assistant secretary for land and minerals management, where she helped develop the land use, resource management and regulatory oversight policies that are administered by the BLM, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Collectively, these four agencies work to ensure appropriate management of federal lands and related resources.

“My government work and academic focus have given me many reasons to watch what is happening at the University of Oregon School of Law,” Burke said. “Being able to join the school in this role is exhilarating for many reasons, with working alongside such great peers topping that list. With highly ranked programs in environmental law, legal writing and dispute resolution, UO feels like a natural fit for me.”

Burke’s teaching and research are in property law, land use law and federal natural resources law. Her research articles have been published in noted journals, such as the Notre Dame Law Review and the Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum.

Her teaching has earned accolades from students, who awarded her professor of the year honors in 2013 from the University of Houston Law Center’s Black Law Students Association.

“Our School of Law is a great asset to this university’s incredible academic offerings, thanks in large part to the steady leadership of Michael Moffitt,” Coltrane wrote.  “We will miss Michael as dean, but we are pleased to welcome him back to the faculty, resuming his role as a scholar and teacher.”

“I am delighted that Associate Dean Burke will be joining our school,” said Moffitt. “She has a deep understanding both of individual service and of the importance of the legal academy within society, and she brings with her an impressive list of accomplishments and scholarship.

“I am proud of the faculty, staff, and students of our law school. Their creativity, their passion, their hard work and their shared commitment to excellence have created exciting momentum for our school over the last six years. I look forward to working with professor and Associate Dean Burke as she assumes the leadership of this incredible law school.”

Burke will officially start on July 1.

By Tobin J. Klinger, University Communications