Law school launches Environmental Law Center with events on both campuses
Public Relations - Published: October 21, 2009


Widener University School of Law officially unveiled its new, dual-campus Environmental Law Center with two launch events this month.

“We have quietly built one of the nation’s top environmental law programs,” Law Dean Linda L. Ammons said. “We’re not going to be quiet anymore.”

The law school first announced the center in April, but celebrated its arrival with a program and reception on the Delaware campus Oct. 13 and on the Harrisburg campus Oct. 15. The Harrisburg campus also used the event to announce its plans to open an Environmental Law Clinic there in January. The Harrisburg campus began an environmental speaker series on the day of the launch, featuring Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection John Hanger at an inaugural luncheon talk.

Distinguished Professor John C. Dernbach, who teaches on the Harrisburg campus, will direct the center. Professor James R. May, the H. Albert Young Fellow in Constitutional Law, will serve as its associate director. Other faculty include Delaware campus Vice Dean and Professor J. Patrick Kelly, Distinguished Professor Andrew L. Strauss, Professor Jean M. Eggen, Professor David R. Hodas and Associate Professor Kenneth T. Kristl, who directs the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic.
“The center will attempt to answer, through scholarship, teaching, applied research, special projects and clinical programs, the question of how law can and should be used to achieve sustainability,” Dernbach said at the Harrisburg-campus launch. “The urgency of the task before us requires this kind of engaged effort: providing information, tools, skills, and ideas that policy makers, practicing lawyers, law students and future lawyers can use to address the challenges and opportunities of sustainability.”

The Delaware-campus launch featured 14 speakers, including former Delaware Gov. Russell Peterson, long a champion for the environment, current Lieutenant Gov. Matt Denn, Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker and more. May acted as master of ceremonies.

The Harrisburg-campus event featured 12 speakers, including Arthur A. Davis, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources from 1987 to 1995, alumnus and Pennsylvania Rep. Eugene A. DePasquale ’02, alumnus and Pennsylvania Sen. Richard Alloway II ’02 and more. Dernbach acted as master of ceremonies.

Kristl announced the plans to start a clinic on the Harrisburg campus in January. Unlike many clinics, its primary focus will not be on litigation. Instead, students will work with members of the public who have environment-related legal issues throughout Pennsylvania.

 “Our goal is to empower citizens,” he said.