Richard W. Parker, a member of the UConn School of Law faculty for 26 years and a founder of the pioneering Semester in DC program, passed away unexpectedly last week.
Parker was a well-known scholar in the fields of administrative law and domestic and international environmental law. He taught in those fields and managed the Semester in DC program, which gives students the opportunity to study in Washington, D.C., while working as interns in congressional offices, federal agencies and national nonprofit organizations.
Jennifer Mailly, associate dean for experiential education, remembers Parker for his tireless devotion to students as a deeply caring teacher and mentor. Nothing made him happier than to see a student well placed in a fulfilling internship in the D.C. area, Mailly said.
“The DC program reunions were just full of alumni who were so grateful to Richard for giving them the foundation to pursue careers in D.C.,” she said. Many graduates have reached positions where they can offer opportunities to students in the program, she said, and Parker enlisted them to further expand the program’s network and reach.
Professor Joseph MacDougald, executive director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Law, recalled Parker’s infectious excitement for — and sometimes frustration with — environmental law.
“Whenever Richard would call me to discuss a conference idea or environmental trend, even if it was on something I knew little or nothing about before the call, by the end, it was something I cared about deeply — because Richard cared and framed the issue in a way that mattered,” MacDougald said. “It was wonderful to see the world through Richard’s eyes for those moments. This is what made him such a great colleague and a teacher.”
MacDougald said many students have told him how Parker inspired them to change their research, pursue further graduate work, or just see the world in a different way. “Many lives and careers have been changed and impacted by Richard Parker’s mentorship,” he said.
“The entire law school community is deeply saddened by Professor Parker’s passing,” Dean Eboni S. Nelson said. “In the short amount of time that I’ve known Professor Parker, it was very evident how deeply he cared about his students and the law school. We will be forever grateful for his many contributions to UConn Law and beyond, and he will be greatly missed by us all.”
Parker was raised in Edinburg, Texas. He earned a BA in Politics from Princeton University and was named a Rhodes Scholar. He received a D.Phil in Politics from Oxford University in 1982 and a JD from Yale University in 1985. He worked at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Environmental Protection Agency and the law firm of O’Melveny and Myers before his appointment to the UConn Law faculty in 1995.
He also served as a consultant to several national and international organizations, including the European Commission on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and participated in the work of the American Bar Association, most recently as chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee in the Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.
Parker leaves his wife, Edith Cecil; two daughters, Claire Parker and Ellida Parker; a stepdaughter, Eloise Stancioff; a brother and sister-in-law, Daniel and Julie Parker; two sisters, Genny Abbott and Peggy Parker; a brother-in-law, Kurt Abbott; and his ex-wife, Sarah McNamer.
The memorial service will be private. Condolences may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to consider a donation to the Natural Resources Defense Council.