Texas Tech University

Marilyn E. Phelan, J.D., Ph.D.

Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Law Emeritus

Marilyn E. Phelan, J.D. (with honors), University of Texas School of Law; Ph.D, Texas Tech University (named the Outstanding Doctor of Business Administration); was the Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Law at Texas Tech University, which is one of the highest honors Texas Tech University can bestow on its professors. Phelan also has served as Professor of Museum Science at Texas Tech University. Phelan founded the Tax Clinic at Texas Tech University School of Law and served as its Director for several years. She also has served as General Counsel for Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

Phelan is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and was certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization as Specialist in Tax Law. Phelan has received numerous teaching awards, including the President's Excellence in Teaching Award; President's Academic Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research, and Service; and the Grover E. Murray Award for Excellence in Higher Education. She was given a YWCA Woman of Excellence award and was named a Super Lawyer by Texas Monthly. The American Bar Association Section of Business Law, Nonprofit Committee, has awarded her an ABA Outstanding Nonprofit Academic Award for contributions and achievements in the field of nonprofit law.

Marilyn Phelan is the author or co-author of sixteen books and over fifty articles or book chapters on laws relating to taxation, nonprofit organizations, and museums. She currently has a book in press on sovereign immunity law that she is co-authoring with her two of her children–a local judge and a governmental attorney. Two books she has authored for Thomson/Reuters (Westlaw) on laws relating to nonprofit organizations--Representing Tax-Exempt Organizations and the 2017 second edition, three volume, “Nonprofit Enterprises: Law and Taxation"-- and are on-line at Westlaw. Phelan was also the co-author of a casebook published by Thomson Reuters--Nonprofit Organizations Law and Policy. She published an article, “Stolen and Illegally Exported Cultural Property and International Legislation and Treaties Protecting Cultural Property” for Thomson Reuters' American Law Reports International. Thomson Reuters has published several of her articles on tax issues related to nonprofit organizations in some of its newsletters for its Mertens' Law of Federal Taxation.” Thomson Reuters has named Phelan a “West Key Author” and has featured her in one of its “Key Author of the Month” issues of its “Legal Current” publications. Phelan also was the co-author of another casebook, Art and Museum Law, that was published by Carolina Academic Press. One of her books on laws relating to museums was listed by the Smithsonian as one of a dozen books every museum should own. Her latest book on laws related to museums–Museum Law–A Guide for Officers, Directors, and Counsel, was published in 2014 by Rowman-Littlefield.

Phelan is a life member of both the American Law Institute and a Texas Commissioner to the Uniform Law Commission. As a Commissioner to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL), she chaired the committee, which included representatives from Canada and Mexico, that drafted a new Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act. Phelan discussed this Act with Chinese officials and scholars at a meeting at the Peking University Law School in Beijing, China, and China later adopted a version of the act to permit local associations in China.

Phelan served for nine years on the Legal Affairs Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). As a member of this committee, she prepared the mediation procedure ICOM recommends when individuals or countries make claims to stolen or illegally exported objects in museum's collections. The President of ICOM published a Statement in 2006 in which she credited Phelan for her work on the committee and referred to Phelan as a “leading international authority on museum and cultural property law.”

Phelan has lectured on cultural property laws, laws relating to nonprofit organizations, and ethics in government at several universities in the United States as well as internationally--at Vienna, Austria; Oxford, England; Seoul, Korea; Monterrey, Mexico; Mexico City, Mexico; Beijing China; and Toronto, Canada. Phelan has served as Chair, Co-Chair and Vice-Chair of the Cultural Property Committee of the Section of International Law and Practice of the American Bar Association. She served as Program Chair for many programs in New York and Washington, D.C. on stolen and illegally exported art and cultural property and was an expert witness in a successful lawsuit filed by heirs of a Holocaust victim against a Boston museum for recovery of a Picasso painting stolen during World War II. Phelan has served as an ABA representative in a UN briefing trip in Geneva, Switzerland and has chaired the International Taxation Committee of the ABA Section of International Law.

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