Erin Ryan

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Publication Title

Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law

Publication Title (Abbreviation)

J. Land Use & Envtl. L.




This essay was written to celebrate David Markell at his retirement from an extraordinary career in both civil service and academia. To a prolific career of scholarly writing, Dave brought the rare gift of high-level practical experience in environmental governance, enabling him to marry a natural gift for academic analysis with an in-depth, field-level understanding of the constraints, challenges, and rate-determining steps of environmental law. As a result, both his scholarship and his teaching were infused with a level of insight that most law professors never quite reach. The incorporation of these twin gifts into his written work invites the highest possible praise, in that his scholarship is truly useful, both to those thinking about and practicing in the field of environmental law. Still, the essay concludes that Dave’s most enduring contributions were in the sustaining personal relationships he created and his own compelling personal example. Dave was a backbone of every community he was part of, caring not only about institution-building but about the individuals that compose them, and supporting every student, colleague, and neighbor who crossed his path with patience, humility, and grace. Published posthumously, the essay concludes with shared reflections of how his various communities will always remember him, profoundly characterized by his utter nobility and sincerity as a human being. He was, and remains, a colleague among colleagues, the very best among us.

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