School navigation

Environmental, Natural Resources, & Energy Law

Professor Marcilynn Burke, former Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management for U.S. Department of the Interior, delivers 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture

January 27, 2017

  • News Image
  • News Image
  • News Image
    Marcilynn Burke receives plaque from Law School Dean Jennifer Johnson for her contributions.
  • News Image
    Marcilynn Burke with our generous MLKJ Lecture series sponsor Lee Matthews ('73)
  • News Image
    Marcilynn Burke with Environmental faculty members, Dan Rohlf and Chris Wold.
  • News Image
    Lee Matthews ('73) with Professor Juliet Stumpf and, Assistant Dean for Development and External Relations, Joset Grenon

On January 23, 2017, Lewis & Clark Law School welcomed Professor Marcilynn Burke as the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecturer. During her visit at Lewis & Clark Law School, Professor Burke met with students and delivered a lecture titled “This Land is Whose Land?!?”


The students appreciated hearing Prof. Burke’s journey as a lawyer, Acting Assistant Secretary for Lands and Mineral Management, and as a Professor. Prof. Burke’s evening lecture highlighted Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches, Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land is Your Land”, and analyzed the current conflict over Public Lands. A podcast of the event can be found here.


Marcilynn Burke is Associate Dean and Professor of Law at University of Houston Law Center. Her 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.


She 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.


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.