Vaag-Award-Photo.jpg (96829 bytes)John-Mark Stensvaag
Charlotte and Frederick Hubbell Professor of
Environmental and Natural Resources Law

University of Iowa College of Law


Professor Stensvaag was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on July 1, 1947. He graduated from Minneapolis Central High School in 1965 and received the B.A. degree in political science and history, summa cum laude, from Augsburg College in 1969. Following one year of study as a Danforth Graduate Fellow at the Harvard Law School, he served for two years as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war, including one year as a VISTA Volunteer for Multnomah County Legal Services in Portland, Oregon. Upon his return to Harvard, he served as editor and senior editor of the Harvard Law Review, holding an Environmental Protection Agency Fellowship in his final year of law school. Professor Stensvaag received the J.D. degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard University in 1974.

Professor Stensvaag clerked for Judge Gerald W. Heaney on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit from 1974 to 1975, and for Judge Earl R. Larson on the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota from 1975 to 1976. From 1976 to 1979, he served as a Special Assistant Attorney General in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office; during this time, Professor Stensvaag was assigned to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and represented that agency in a broad range of environmental matters, including the Reserve Mining Company litigation and proceedings before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In 1979, Professor Stensvaag joined the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Law, where he taught Civil Procedure, Evidence, and Environmental Law, and coached the National Moot Court Team. He served as a visiting professor at the University of Iowa College of Law from 1987-88, becoming a permanent member of the Iowa law faculty in 1988. Since 1994, Professor Stensvaag has also taught a seminar entitled Citizen Enforcement of Environmental Laws. In the 2008-2009 academic year, he co-taught with Professor Linda McGuire an evidence tutorial designed to assist women prisoners serving life sentences for crimes committed while suffering from domestic violence. 

In 2003, Professor Stensvaag was appointed Charlotte and Frederick Hubbell Professor of Environmental and Natural Resources Law. Charlotte B. and Frederick S. Hubbell graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1976. The distinguished legal and volunteer activities of this extraordinarily generous couple—and their devotion to the College of Law—are celebrated here.

Professor Stensvaag is the author of the two-volume treatise, Hazardous Waste Law and Practice (Wiley Law, 1986-, 1989-) and the co-author with Craig Oren of another two-volume treatise, Clean Air Act Law and Practice (Wiley Law, 1991-). Professor Stensvaag has published extensive articles in the Northwestern University Law Review and the Southern California Law Review on the regulation of radioactive air emissions from nuclear generating plants. One theme of his scholarship—the critical importance of "micro-environmental law"—is captured in The Not So Fine Print of Environmental Law, 27 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 1093 (1994), and The Fine Print of State Environmental Audit Privileges, 16 U.C.L.A. Journal of Environmental Law & Policy 69 (1997/98). Professor Stensvaag has placed on the internet the complete text of his Seminar Materials on Environmental Citizen Suits (Spring 1998). His Materials on Environmental Law, part of the West Group's American Casebook Series, was published in August, 1999. More recently, Professor Stensvaag has published seven articles on the Clean Air Act's PSD program: Preventing Significant Deterioration Under the Clean Air Act: Baselines, Increments, and Ceilings—Part I, 35 Envtl. L. Rep. 10807 (2005), Preventing Significant Deterioration Under the Clean Air Act: Baselines, Increments, and Ceilings—Part II, 36 Envtl. L. Rep. 10017 (2006), Preventing Significant Deterioration Under the Clean Air Act: New Facility Permit Triggers, 38 Envt'l. L. Rep. 10003 (2008), reprinted in 7 ICFAI U. J. Envt'l. L. 44 (2009), Preventing Significant Deterioration Under the Clean Air Act: Area Classification, Initial Allocation, and Redesignation, 41 Envt'l. L. Rep. 10008 (2011), Preventing Significant Deterioration Under the Clean Air Act: The BACT Requirement and BACT Definition, 41 Envt'l. L. Rep. 10902 (2011), Preventing Significant Deterioration Under the Clean Air Act: The BACT Determination—Part I, 41 Envt'l. L. Rep. 11101 (2011), Preventing Significant Deterioration Under the Clean Air Act: The BACT Determination—Part II, 42 Envt'l. L. Rep. 10024 (2012).

In 1985, the Vanderbilt Student Bar Association selected Professor Stensvaag to receive the Paul J. Hartman Award for Excellence in Teaching. Students at the University of Iowa College of Law have selected him to receive the Collegiate Teaching Award on three occasions (1989, 2002, and 2012). In 2005, Professor Stensvaag was selected to receive the University of Iowa's highest teaching honor—the President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence—an occasion commemorated here. Augsburg College honored him with a Distinguished Alumni citation in 1993. To read Professor Stensvaag's remarks at the Augsburg College ceremony, acknowledging his debt to his teachers, click here. He was a 1996 recipient of a University of Iowa Instructional Improvement Award, designed to bring innovative teaching methods and technologies to the classroom. Professor Stensvaag has been selected by the graduating classes to participate in the privilege of hooding them or reading their names at commencement numerous times. The December 1997 graduating class selected him to present commencement remarks; to read those remarks, which reflect his views on the practice of law, click here. Professor Stensvaag background and the influences that shaped his life as a teacher and scholar were also profiled in the the October 22, 2007, FYI publication. On October 15, 2009, Professor Stensvaag delivered the second annual "Last Lecture," in remarks entitled "Lawyers and the Arc of History," at the request of the Iowa Student Bar Association.

Professor Stensvaag and his wife, Nancy, have been married for 45 years, and have five children and four grandchildren. Nancy Stensvaag received her M.B.A. from the University of Iowa in 1993 and served as the volunteer Executive Director of the Iowa Valley chapter of Habitat for Humanity from 1995 to 2003. During her eight years with the organization, the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate built twenty-five homes in Johnson, Cedar, and Iowa Counties; during that same period, the tithes on locally raised contributions funded from 25 to 50 additional homes in Central and South America. Nancy has participated in the effort of area churches to provide overflow accommodations for homeless guests when Iowa City's overcrowded Shelter House must turn them away on cold winter nights, has served as the volunteer co-chair for Project Holiday's distribution of food baskets, and has volunteered with the Hancher Showcase, the Family Concert Series, the Friends of Pasrur (Pakistan) girl's school, and the Johnson Country Crisis Center.

L ike many families, the families of Professor Stensvaag and his siblings have been enriched by the miracle of adoption. To see the twelve grandchildren of John and Hannah Stensvaag—Professor Stensvaag's parents—with their grandmother, click here. When their children were younger, Professor Stensvaag and his wife were active in OURS, an international adoption parent support group, serving as the Middle Tennesee Chapter Vice-Chairmen from 1986 to 1987. The group formerly known as OURS is now called Adoptive Families of America.

Professor Stensvaag and his wife Nancy are active members of the First Presbyterian Church of Iowa City, Iowa. The Stensvaags encourage students who are looking for a church away from home to worship with them at 2701 Rochester Avenue each Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

Students who would like to sing in a church choir are encouraged to speak to Professor Stensvaag about the opportunities at First Presbyterian Church, where the choir regularly performs such works as Vivaldi's Gloria and Magnificat, Bach's Magnificat, Handel's Messiah, Saint-Saens' Christmas Oratorio, and the Durufle Requiem with such outstanding musicians as violinists Doris Preucil and Candace Wiebener, violist William Preucil, and choral director Darlene Bergman.

This page is not supported or underwritten by the University of Iowa or its web servers.

Last modified: August 2, 2015