Longtime Professor, Water Policy Expert Robert Glennon Retires from University of Arizona Law

July 7, 2021

The celebrated Regents Professor is also launching a scholarship

Robert Glennon

For many University of Arizona Law JD students, their first class on their first day of their first year began with Robert Glennon. No doubt a momentous occasion for the students, but it was equally significant to Glennon, who retired this year after 36 years at Arizona Law.

Asked what he’ll miss most, he points to teaching Constitutional Law I to first-year students.

“I vividly recall one student who would come up to me after virtually every class to ask questions, and she often met me during office hours because she was really struggling,” Glennon says. “She persevered. She got an ‘A.’ I was overjoyed.”

For Glennon, whose legacy undeniably includes outstanding scholarly contributions and building a first-rate environmental law program, teaching and student success were always at the core of his work.

Glennon with students

Peter Culp (’01) took Water Law and Law of the Colorado River with Glennon and says those classes and Glennon’s mentorship were instrumental in launching his career.

“As they were for so many of my fellow students, those classes were foundational in the development of my understanding of western water law and policy,” says Culp, managing partner at Culp & Kelly, LLP, which specializes in water, environmental, and natural resource law and policy. “A law review article about the Colorado River Delta—which he generously agreed to co-author with me while I was still a law student—helped to define the course of my future career and started me on my path as a successful water lawyer. Over the years, Robert has been my teacher, mentor, counselor, collaborator and a close friend. I will be forever grateful to him.”

Friend, colleague and fellow Regents Professor Toni Massaro echoes the praise.

“His teaching is exemplary, says Massaro. “He is ever aware that our students matter above all, and that our job is to give them our very best every class—every semester, every year, year after year.”

Glennon says his relationship with Massaro was another professional highlight.

“I am happy that I played a role as chair of the faculty personnel committee in hiring Toni,” Glennon says. “She embodies all that is good about the academy. She’s a fabulous teacher, an amazing scholar, an invaluable colleague and an even better friend.”

Glennon adds that being part of the broader faculty community was something special.

“I’m very proud to have been a member of the Arizona Law faculty. It’s a truly distinguished group that cherishes scholarship and teaching. The faculty are very collegial and supportive of colleagues’ successes.”

His environmental law colleague, Professor Kirsten Engel, says, “Robert is a towering figure in the world of water. But he always made time for colleagues. He was always available to talk about anything water and had a keen knack for ferreting out the ironies in how we have mismanaged and undervalued water.”

Engel adds that the college will continue the popular Environmental Breakfast Club tradition that Glennon organized. The monthly speaker series brings together faculty and staff from across the University of Arizona to discuss work in natural resources and the environment and celebrated its 17th season last year.

Announcing the Professor Robert Glennon Endowed Scholarship

Robert Glennon kayaking

Glennon says that he looks forward to spending more time at his home on the coast of Maine, fly fishing and being on the water, but he is also staying engaged with the Arizona Law community that was his home for almost four decades.

He will continue to teach Water Law as an emeritus professor. And he and his wife, Class of 1976 alumna Judge Karen Adam (Ret.), have started a scholarship fund, ensuring that more generations of Arizona Law students will be able to count on Glennon as part of their success story.

“Karen and I think that Arizona Law occupies a very unusual position in legal education,” Glennon says of their decision to start a scholarship. “It’s a small school that has the benefits of students who are bright, curious and friendly; faculty who are accessible and collegial; a university that is world-class; and supportive legal and court communities that welcome law students. We wanted to help a prospective student choose to become a lawyer and to attend Arizona Law.”

The first recipient of the Professor Robert Glennon Endowed Scholarship will enroll at Arizona Law this fall.

“It is important to stop and celebrate Robert as a teacher, scholar, colleague and friend,” says Dean Marc Miller. “But a part of that celebration embodies the joy of knowing that, from the headwaters of the ‘Glennon River,’ there are colleagues in our hallways, and countless alumni and friends, whose work now and going forward will continue to flow from Robert’s time and talent in the classroom and at the keyboard, and from his always even temperament.”


Give to the Glennon Scholarship Fund


Celebrating a Remarkable Career

Robert Glennon on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

It’s impossible to capture all that Glennon has accomplished, but highlights include: 

  • Held the Morris K. Udall Professorship in Law and Public Policy
  • In 2012, named a University of Arizona Regents Professor, the highest accolade the university bestows on faculty
  • Author of two books on water: “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It” (winner of the Rachel Carson Book Award for Reporting on the Environment) and “Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters”
  • Recipient of two National Science Foundation grants
  • Co-author of the groundbreaking report, “Shopping for Water: How the Market Can Mitigate Water Shortages in the American West”
  • Advisor to governments, corporations, think tanks, law firms and NGOS looking to solve serious challenges around water sustainability and planning
  • Highly sought-after speaker and analyst helping reporters and the public around the world understand water policy and the path toward a sustainable water future, featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” just to name a few.