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Dick Stewart

(Ohio & University 1961) (12 February 1940 - 3 November 2023)

Richard Stewart, University Professor and John Edward Sexton Professor of Law, died on November 3. “Dick was a beloved figure within the legal community, known for his generosity, loyalty, and confident leadership,” Dean Troy McKenzie said in announcing Stewart’s passing.

Noting that Stewart was recognized as a preeminent scholar in environmental law and administrative law, McKenzie said, “It is no exaggeration to say that his death marks the passing of a giant in the law whose transformational influence on his field, and on our Law School, will be felt for many years to come.”

Stewart received a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in History, the Arts, and Letters from Yale University and then, as a Rhodes Scholar, a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics with first class honors from Oxford University. He earned his law degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. Stewart began his legal career as a law clerk to Justice Potter Stewart at the US Supreme Court and worked for several years in private practice in Washington, DC. Joining the Harvard faculty, he quickly built a reputation as an extraordinary scholar with the publication in the Harvard Law Review of his now classic article, “The Reformation of American Administrative Law,” which marked a turning point in administrative law scholarship.

Stewart was a longtime leader of the Environmental Defense Fund, serving as its chairman from 1980 to 1983 and as a member of its board of trustees and advisory board. From 1989 to 1991, he served as assistant attorney general in charge of what was then known as the Land and Natural Resources Division of the US Department of Justice. He successfully worked to rename it the Environment and Natural Resources Division to reflect its mission more accurately. While in office, he led the investigation of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the development of the US position in preparation for the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change. He was also instrumental in crafting major environmental legislation, including the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.  

Read the full obituary here.