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Honorary Degree Recipients 2023

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Donald C. Baur

Environmental Honorary Degree

Donald C. Baur

The 2023 Environmental Honorary Degree will be conferred posthumously to Don Baur, who served as a summer faculty member for the VLGS Environmental Law Center for nearly three decades. Known for his quiet, steadfast nature, Don tirelessly advocated on behalf of animals, national parks, and the environment. During his many years of service, he received the Marine Wildlife Conservation Award from the Center for Marine Conservation, the 1872 Award for Service to the National Parks from the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, and the Wings Award for Animal Welfare Advocacy from the Pegasus Foundation.

Don received his BA degree, with highest honors, from Trinity College and his JD degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He worked in the Solicitor’s Office of the Department of the Interior before serving as the general counsel of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, and he sat on the boards of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, the Shenandoah National Park Trust, and the Environmental Leadership Council of the Environmental Law Institute. His publications include the American Bar Association books Endangered Species Act: Law, Policy and Perspectives and Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy.

In addition, Don was a partner in the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources (EER) practice at the Washington, D.C., office of Perkins Coie LLP, which recognized him in memoriam for his leadership in “bringing the firm’s EER practice to national prominence and playing a lead role in recruiting and training a generation of environmental lawyers.”

Numerous Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS) students gained invaluable experience through internships with Don’s help, and he was a mentor to many more. He was also a champion of VLGS’s new Animal Law and Policy Institute.

Don’s Oceans and Coastal Law class was one of VLGS’s most popular courses. This is no wonder when you look at his incredible pro bono work to help whales, sea otters, and the oceans. One notable case was when he represented Keiko the orca, who was featured in the Disney movie Free Willy. With Don’s continued efforts, Keiko was finally freed from the Oregon Coast Aquarium in 1998.

Up until just days before he died, Don also worked tirelessly on behalf of “Lolita,” the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale who has been held captive at the Miami Seaquarium in the smallest orca tank in the world for more than half a century—and who is now slated to be transferred to a seaside sanctuary in her home waters.

These are only two of the many contributions Don has made to animal rights, ocean conservation, parks, and the environment. Through his demonstration of perseverance and quiet determination, Don Baur has inspired and influenced many generations of environmental and animal lawyers.


N. Bruce Duthu

Honorary Degree Lecture

N. Bruce Duthu

Walking in Beauty: Indigenous Peoples, Restorative Justice, and Living in Balance

This talk will consider recent efforts by Indigenous tribal nations to govern relations among individuals, communities, and the natural world in ways that more explicitly incorporate traditional Indigenous values and practices.

Professor N. Bruce Duthu is the Samson Occom Professor and Chair of Native American and Indigenous Studies at Dartmouth College. An internationally recognized scholar of Native American law and policy, Professor Duthu joined the faculty of Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth in 2008. He served as Dartmouth’s associate dean of the faculty for International Studies and Interdisciplinary Programs. Duthu earned his BA degree in religion and Native American studies from Dartmouth College and his JD degree from Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans. Prior to joining the Dartmouth faculty, Duthu was professor of law at Vermont Law School where he also served as the law school's vice dean for academic affairs and as inaugural director of the VLS-Sun Yatsen University (Guangzhou, China) Partnership in Environmental Law. He served as visiting professor of law at Harvard Law School, the universities of Wollongong and Sydney in New South Wales, Australia, and the University of Trento in northern Italy

Professor Duthu is the author of “Shadow Nations: Tribal Sovereignty and the Limits of Legal Pluralism” (Oxford University Press 2013) and “American Indians and the Law” (Viking/Penguin Press 2008), and was a contributing author of Felix S. Cohen's “Handbook of Federal Indian Law” (2005), the leading treatise in the field of federal Indian law. His co-edited special volume of “South Atlantic Quarterly, Sovereignty, Indigeneity and the Law” won the 2011 Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) Award for Best Special Issue. He co-produced the documentary feature film, “Dawnland" (2018) that focuses on state removal of Indian children from their families. In 2019, “Dawnland" received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Research. Duthu has lectured on indigenous rights in various parts of the world, including Russia, China, Bolivia, Italy, France, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Professor Duthu is an enrolled tribal member of the United Houma Nation of Louisiana. He and his wife, Hilde Ojibway, have three children and five grandchildren.


Justice Nancy Jear Waples

Honorary Degree Recipient

Justice Nancy Jear Waples

Justice Nancy Waples was appointed to the Vermont Supreme Court by Governor Phil Scott, and was sworn in on April 15, 2022, making her the 137th Justice, the fifth woman, and the first person of color to serve on the Court.

Prior to her elevation to the Vermont Supreme Court, Justice Waples was the first person of color appointed to the Vermont Superior Court and spent seven years serving as a trial judge, hearing cases in the Family, Civil, and Criminal Divisions while sitting in counties all across Vermont.

Justice Waples’ professional experience spans decades of criminal practice, most recently as a managing partner at the Burlington firm, Hoff Curtis, but also as an assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Vermont, and as an assistant district attorney at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office where she handled both trials and appeals.

While in private practice, Justice Waples served by appointment from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals as the criminal justice act coordinator for the District of Vermont, where she was the liaison between Vermont’s federal courts and the panel of private attorneys who provided legal services to the indigent in federal criminal cases. Over the course of her career, Justice Waples has participated in a variety of volunteer and professional organizations, including Spectrum Youth and Family Services, the Vermont Youth Orchestra, the Junior League of Champlain Valley, and the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program.

Justice Waples received her BA from the College of William and Mary in 1982 and earned her JD from St. John’s University School of Law in 1987. She was born in Toronto, Canada, where her family had settled after fleeing the Communist Revolution in China, before emigrating to the United States and residing just outside of New York City. Having learned English as a second language, she is fluent in Chinese.