Marcilynn Burke, Associate Dean and Professor of Law, University of Houston Professor Burke’s expertise is in environmental, natural resources, land use, and property law. She has served at the U.S Department of the Interior and as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management helping develop federal land use, resource management, and regulatory oversight policies.
Professor Marcilynn A. Burke joined the faculty at the University of Houston in 2002, and teaches courses 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. In the past, she served as the faculty editor for recent developments and book reviews for the Law Center’s ENVIRONMENT & ENERGY LAW & POLICY JOURNAL (EELPJ). She also served as a co-director of the EENR Center and the lead faculty editor for EELPJ.
After receiving tenure at the University of Houston in 2009, Professor Burke took a leave of absence from the Law Center until 2013, to serve at the U.S. Department of the Interior, where she began as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Deputy Director for Programs and Policy. In 2011, President Barack Obama designated her as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management (ASLM). As the Acting ASLM, she helped develop the land use, resource management, and regulatory oversight policies that are administered by four federal agencies: the BLM; the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management; the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement; and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. These agencies—with over 12,000 employees—endeavor to ensure appropriate management and use of federal lands, waters, and cultural resources, and the regulation of surface coal mining. The geographic scope of these activities encompasses the continental United States and large parts of Alaska.
President Obama nominated Professor Burke in 2012 as his Assistant Secretary-Designate, and the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Energy and Natural Resources positively reported on her nomination later that year. While awaiting action by the full U.S. Senate, Professor Burke served as Acting ASLM until January 2013, before resuming her professorship at UHLC.
Professor Burke was named “Scholar of the Week” by the Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation and Resources at the University of North Carolina School of Law in March 2013. She was also recognized in May 2013 in the alumni spotlight of the Global Studies Curriculum at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the fall of 2013, the Law Center’s Black Law Students Association presented her with the Professor of the Year Award.
Professor Burke received her bachelor’s degree in International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She obtained her law degree from Yale Law School, where she was an editor for both the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism and the Yale Journal of International Law. After graduating from Yale, she clerked for the Honorable Raymond A. Jackson of the Eastern District of Virginia. Following her clerkship, she joined the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. During her almost five years at the firm, her practice focused on environmental law, antitrust, and civil and criminal litigation. After leaving the firm, Professor Burke spent the 2001-02 academic year as a visiting professor of law at Rutgers School of Law-Camden (New Jersey). Professor Burke’s scholarly interests include natural resources, property, land use, and environmental law.
Lewis & Clark Law School’s Endowed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speaker Series was made possible by the generous support of Lee Matthews ’73 and Jacqueline Alexander ’07.