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Michelle Belco Honors Faculty

Michelle Belco



Michelle Belco is an attorney and lecturer in the Honors College at the University of Houston. Her research explores the President's use of executive orders, proclamations, memorandum, and regulatory policy. The complexity of executive action involves the investigation of the bureaucracy’s relationship with the President and the relationship between Congress and the President. When Presidents act they must anticipate the response and effect of their actions. How effective are Presidents in using executive action to create policy? They have the power to act first but in turn, Presidents must rely on Congress to enact their policy and the bureaucracy to implement it. Belco’s research illustrates how the President's power is checked and balanced both within the executive branch and by Congress.

Her research has been published in political science journals and she has a book forthcoming on The Dual Executive: Unilateral Orders in a Separated and Shared Power System by Stanford University Press. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Houston and J.D. from South Texas College of Law. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., she practiced environmental and administrative law and specialized in working with governments, negotiated agreements, and regulation.


Lecturer, Houston, Texas: University of Houston, Honors College. 2016-Present

Lecturer, Houston, Texas: University of Houston Department of Political Science and the Honors College. 2013-2016

            Teaching and Research Assistant, Houston, Texas: University of Houston Department of Political Science, 2008-2013

Teaching Adjunct, Lone Star College, Department of History and Social Sciences, 2010-2012

            Teaching Adjunct, University of Houston Downtown, Department of Political Science, 2012-2013 


Ph.D. University of Houston, May 2013

Fields of Study: American Institutions, Presidency, and Public Policy

Dissertation Title: Unilateral Orders and the Legislative Process

M.A., University of Houston (Political Science), 2010 

Doctor of Jurisprudence, South Texas College of Law, 1996, Licensed in Texas, 1997 to present     

Post-Graduate Study, Pennsylvania State University (Fine Arts and Art History), 1975

B.S., Western Michigan University (Industrial Engineering and Fine Arts), 1973


American Institutions: Presidency and the Executive Branch, Congress, and Bureaucracy

Policy: Immigration and Energy and the Environment


Belco, Michelle and Brandon Rottinghaus, The Dual Executive: Unilateral Orders in a Separated and Shared Power System, Stanford University Press forthcoming.

Belco, Michelle, “Presidential Unilateral Orders: Policymaking Tool,” 2015, Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Policy

Belco, Michelle, “Presidential Policymaking: Discretion and the Execution of Law,” 2015, Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Policy

Belco, Michelle and Brandon Rottinghaus, “In Lieu of Legislation:  Executive Unilateral Preemption or Support During the Legislative Process,” Political Research Quarterly, Volume 67, No. 2, June 2014, 413-425

Belco, Michelle and Brandon Rottinghaus, “Presidential Proclamation 6920: Using Executive Power to Set a New Direction for the Management of National Monuments,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, Volume 39, No. 3, September 2009, 605-618

Belco, Michelle, “Teaching the Presidency: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Election,” Presidents & Executive Politics (PEP) Report, Section of the American Political Science Association, Fall 2012

Belco, Michelle and Elizabeth Rigby, “Providing Public Goods: Alternative Policy Approaches,” Chapter in The People and American Government, Volume II. 2009, New York: Pearson Custom Publishing

Belco, Michelle and Elizabeth Rigby, “Providing Public Goods: Alternative Policy Approaches,” Chapter in American Democracy Now (4th Ed), New York: McGraw Hill Custom E-Book Publishing, 2015.


Do Presidents Have the Upper Hand? Congressional Response to Executive Orders, Presidents Ford to Obama, Book Manuscript 

Immigration Reform and the Partisan Divide, Coauthored Book Manuscript with Jennifer Clark and Savannah Sipole

“Executive Orders and the President’s Agenda” 

“Implementing Executive Orders: Bargaining Inside the Obama Administration” 


Belco & Associates, P.C., Houston, Texas:  Environmental and administrative law practice; developed environmental compliance and enforcement training program for District and County Attorneys, County Judges, Civil and Criminal Court Judges, and Enforcement Officers.  

Regional Director, Pacific West, Inc., Houston, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah: Worked with state transportation and environmental agencies throughout the U.S. analyzing and developing laws and regulations to support this national company’s industrial market 

Environmental Manager, Southern Pacific Railroad, Houston, Texas: Managed environmental compliance for the railroad’s fixed and operating facilities throughout the U.S; hazardous materials responder and mitigation specialist; prepared interrogatories and questions for depositions for environmental litigation   

Environmental Specialist, Brown & Root U.S.A., Houston, Texas: Monitored and interpreted federal and state regulations for multiple industrial sectors and served as liaison with governmental agencies throughout the U.S.; prepared environmental documents permits, and compliance plans

Environmental Manager, Houston Transit Consultants, Houston, Texas: Managed environmental documentation, contracts, community planning, public hearings, and agency liaison, for proposed $2 billion mass transit program

Project Manager, DeLeuw, Cather & Company, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco: Environmental and cultural resource planner and consultant for major transportation and development projects throughout the U.S.

Assistant Executive Director, Commission for Historic & Architectural Preservation, Baltimore, Maryland: Specialized in the rehabilitation and preservation of the city’s historic architectural resources; prepared documentation for the transfer of U.S. post office from the General Services Administration; federal grants manager; legislative analyst and liaison with the Maryland General Assembly 

Special Assistant to the President of the City Council, Baltimore, Maryland: Responsible for developing community arts programs and art exhibitions


United States Supreme Court Bar

State Bar of Texas

American Bar Association, Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice

Texas State Bar Association, Administrative Law

American Political Science Association

Midwest Political Science Association

Southern Political Science Association

Association of Centers for the Study of Congress


Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society