Remembering Professor Dave Markell (1953-2021)

Press Date
April 2, 2021
Professor Markell Headshot

The FSU Law community is profoundly saddened that Professor Emeritus David Markell passed away on March 22 after a heroic battle with cancer. Professor Markell was beloved at FSU Law for his kindness, generosity, hard work, inspired teaching, scholarly productivity, and service to the law school and broader community. His contributions to the law school during his 18 years on the faculty were immeasurable. He served in numerous leadership positions, including as an associate dean in three capacities. As a scholar, he was nationally recognized as one of the top in his field. During his career, Markell published six books and more than 50 articles and book chapters on topics including climate change, compliance and enforcement, and North American environmental law and policy. One of his books was cited as “the most outstanding work of legal scholarship in the field” of administrative law and earned an annual American Bar Association Section award for scholarship. Professor Markell also was instrumental in connecting FSU Law—particularly the environmental law program—with the practicing profession. He engaged often with alumni and other attorneys and judges to spread the word about our programs, professors and students. There is no doubt that his presence on the faculty was a big reason that the environmental law program has been highly regarded for so long.

Equally admirable was Professor Markell’s tireless commitment to help his current and former students. His high expectations, coupled with his patient and nurturing mentorship, gave countless FSU Law students the confidence and the courage to be the very best lawyers they could be. “Dave was one of the most popular teachers at the law school,” said Dean Emeritus Don Weidner. “Even in extremely difficult courses to teach, like Legislation and Regulation, the students gave him rave reviews. And, though he taught many more students than most faculty, he took the time to integrate role-playing assignments into virtually all his courses.”

In addition to being a revered teacher, Markell helped multiple graduating students secure jobs in the environmental field. Moreover, while serving as the Steven M. Goldstein Professor, he regularly reached out to connect with students who were Goldstein scholars so that they would know more about Professor Goldstein and the values that drove his life and career in law. Professor Emeritus Chuck Ehrhardt noted that “Dave admirably filled both the spirit and the intent of the Goldstein professorship by bringing a wide variety of environmental law experts to the school to stimulate student interest in the field.”

Every member of the FSU Law community who worked with Professor Markell felt his kindness and generosity. He was welcoming to everyone and genuinely cared about his colleagues, students and our administrative team. He was never too busy to ask how someone’s family was (and to listen with genuine interest to their reply) or to give advice to a student about their professional endeavors. As his colleague Professor Wayne Logan related, “Dave Markell truly embodied what it means to be a dedicated teacher and public-spirited legal scholar. But more than that, Dave was a truly fantastic person.”

Professor Nat Stern offered, “Dave’s remarkable career speaks for itself. Still, what I’ll always cherish most is the inspiration of his magnificent character. Dave made all of us better by the example of his endless kindness, devotion, dedication, generosity and profound humanity.” Professor Emeritus Donna Christie expressed similar sentiments: “Dave impressed me most by simply being one of the finest people I have ever known. Kind, thoughtful, caring, respectful of students and colleagues—I could make a list of noble characteristics that would fill a page. All of us who knew him are better for it.” And Professor Shi-Ling Hsu focused on Markell's tremendous sense of commitment: “Dave Markell was an immensely talented individual, but his gifts paled in comparison with his herculean work ethic. Dave worked hard at everything, all the time. Instinctively modest, he led by example, but that example was extraordinary.” 

Although Professor Markell retired from teaching in 2020, he was still actively engaged with many of our community and will be missed terribly. As summed up by Professor Erin Ryan, who currently serves as associate dean for environmental programs, “the world is smaller, and sadder, without him.”

Published on April 2, 2021