OU College of Law Professors Backus and Robertson Receive University Awards

April 12, 2017 | By Mackenzie Dilbeck, Director of Communications

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Mackenzie A. Dilbeck
(405) 325-2227

NORMAN — Two University of Oklahoma College of Law professors were recognized at the university’s “A Tribute to the Faculty” this week. Professors Mary Sue Backus and Lindsay Robertson both received Regents’ Awards at the annual event.

“This year, OU Law is honored to have two incredibly worthy recipients of two of the university’s most prestigious awards,” said OU College of Law Dean Joseph Harroz Jr. “Mary Sue and Lindsay represent the very best of our faculty and we’re grateful they are receiving wider recognition for their immense contributions to the College of Law and to OU at large.”

Backus received the Regents’ Award for Superior Teaching. The award is one of three Regents’ Awards given annually and recognizes excellence in teaching at OU. 

“Mary Sue is a world-class teacher,” said Harroz. “She succeeds in creating the type of classroom to which many of our graduates credit much of their professional successes. Our students consistently note the intention with which she approaches teaching, and frequently comment on her tendency to incorporate real world experiences into her classroom. She is esteemed by her students and colleagues for her knowledge and enthusiasm. We are so fortunate to have her at the College of Law.”

Backus is the Robert Glenn Rapp Foundation Presidential Professor at the OU College of Law where she teaches Criminal Law, Education Law and Evidence. Her recent scholarship focuses on reforming Oklahoma law in the areas of juvenile competency and virtual charter schools. She joined the OU Law faculty in 2004 after serving as a visiting assistant professor of law at William and Mary School of Law. She began her legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable H. Emory Widener on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit. 

From 2004 to 2007, Backus served as a co-reporter for the National Committee on the Right to Counsel, a bipartisan group reviewing the indigent defense system throughout the nation and creating consensus recommendations for reform. She currently serves on the board of directors for Oklahoma Close Up, a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizenship education program for high school students.

At OU Law, Backus volunteers as a moot court coach; is faculty sponsor of two student groups, the Organization for the Advancement of Women in Law and Phi Alpha Delta, a law fraternity dedicated to community service; and serves as director of the China Summer Law Program. She is also a member of the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues. Backus earned her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary; master’s of arts in teaching from the University of Alaska, Anchorage; and her J.D. from William and Mary School of Law.

Robertson received the Regents’ Award for Superior Professional and University Service and Outreach. The award is one of three Regents’ Awards given annually and honors a faculty member’s contributions to OU’s service and outreach. 

“Lindsay is one our college’s greatest champions for service and outreach,” said Harroz. “He applies a laser-focus to creating opportunities for our students to gain a greater understanding of the law and of the human condition. He has an irrepressible desire to help others, and he routinely fosters meaningful relationships within the university, our state and nation and global communities along the way. His model of service through leadership is a great asset to OU and to our college.”

Robertson is the OU College of Law’s Chickasaw Nation Endowed Chair in Native American Law, Sam K. Viersen Family Foundation Presidential Professor and faculty director of the Center for the Study of American Indian Law and Policy. He joined OU Law in 1997 and teaches Federal Indian Law, Comparative and International Indigenous Peoples Law, Constitutional Law and Legal History. He is also founding director of OU Law’s International Human Rights Law Clinic.

Robertson was Private Sector Advisor to the U.S. Department of State delegations to the Working Groups on the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2004-06) and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2004-07). From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of the U.S Department of State Advisory Committee on International Law. In 2014, he served as advisor on indigenous peoples law to the Chair of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. He has spoken widely on international and comparative indigenous peoples law issues in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia. 

In 2014, Robertson was the first recipient of OU’s David L. Boren Award for Outstanding Global Engagement. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute; a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation; and the author of Conquest by Law. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Davidson College, and his M.A., J.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

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