University of Vermont

University Communications

Markowitz Appointed Visiting Professor in UVM's Rubenstein School

Deb Markowitz
Deb Markowitz, recent secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, joins faculty of the UVM Rubenstein School as visiting professor.

The University of Vermont Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources has appointed Deb Markowitz as a visiting professor, Nancy Mathews, dean of the school, announced today. Markowitz is the outgoing secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, a position she held since 2011. Prior to her role leading the agency, Markowitz served for 12 years as Vermont’s secretary of state. 

According to Mathews, Markowitz’s recent role as leader of the state agency that protects Vermont's environment, natural resources and wildlife and maintains Vermont's forests and state parks makes Markowitz well-suited to instruct students on environmental leadership and policy making and to advise the school about the impacts of federal environmental policy changes. 

“The Rubenstein School and entire campus are extremely fortunate to have Secretary Markowitz join us as a visiting professor,” states Mathews. “Her experience in state government and deep connections with the environment will greatly enrich both our graduate and undergraduate programs. Secretary Markowitz has demonstrated her leadership capabilities in numerous capacities over the past 20 years, and she is the perfect person to instruct a course on environmental leadership.”  

As secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, Markowitz shaped Vermont’s environmental agenda, focusing on the challenges of climate change, forest health and integrity, and cleaning up Lake Champlain. She speaks nationally and internationally on the importance of state action in the fight against climate change, having served on the board of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. She represented Vermont on the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience and at the United Nations Summits on Climate Change in Paris and Marrakech. 

“I am delighted to be joining the talented and dedicated faculty at the Rubenstein School,” says Markowitz, who has been a member of the school’s board of advisors since 2014. “I look forward to being a part of a team that is committed to scholarship and that sees its role as preparing students to address the most pressing environmental challenges of our time.” 

Markowitz begins at UVM on January 9. In addition to conducting a graduate seminar on environmental leadership and policy making, she will focus her efforts at the university on environmental leadership and action. Markowitz will help the Rubenstein School and UVM campus environmental community stay up to date on the impacts of federal environmental policy changes and proposals. 

A graduate of the University of Vermont in 1983, Markowitz received her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1987, magna cum laude and, in 2015, a Certificate in Public Leadership from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Markowitz has a long and distinguished career in public service.

She clerked for Louis Peck of the Vermont Supreme Court, and she served as founding director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns Municipal Law Center. Markowitz was elected six times as Vermont’s secretary of state, receiving both the Democratic and Republican nominations on two occasions. In these roles, she published numerous guidebooks, essays, and academic papers, and she lectured locally and nationally on issues related to public leadership, municipal law, elections, and civil society. 

As the first woman elected secretary of state in Vermont, Markowitz founded the Women’s Leadership Initiative that trained dozens of women to run for local and state office, and she was a leading national voice on progressive election reforms. Markowitz ran for Vermont governor in 2010. She lost in a close primary to Governor Peter Shumlin, who then appointed her to serve as his secretary of natural resources. 

Markowitz currently serves on the boards of advisors for the Georgetown Climate Center, Antioch’s Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience, and the Rubenstein School. She founded Vermont Parks Forever, the foundation for Vermont’s state parks. Markowitz has been recognized nationally for her leadership by being awarded an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellowship and the Kennedy School of Governments’ Cahn Fellowship.