It is one of my great regrets that I never really got to know Professor Joseph Sax personally. I joined the faculty at the University of Michigan Law School well over a decade after Sax departed our halls for the University of California at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. I met him on one occasion several years ago, when he gave an engaging workshop at Michigan on governance issues around Colorado River water allocation, complete with a detailed map of the watershed. I am exceptionally fortunate, however, to occupy a chair named for him. This is not only because of his major contributions to the creation of environmental law, but because—even viewed at a distance—his career, accomplishments, and legacy are a model of what it can mean to realize one’s potential as a legal scholar. The numerous achievements in environmental law that made Sax a giant in his field have been widely recited elsewhere: his scholarship on the public trust doctrine and on citizen suits was path-breaking, and his scholarship on takings law was frequently cited in the Supreme Court. He was awarded the Blue Planet Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize for the environmental sciences, was named a Distinguished University Professor here at Michigan, and wrote an influential environmental protection statute for the State of Michigan. His contributions to law and the environment are legion; later in life he expanded his focus to cultural treasures as well as environmental ones.

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