Today, Chief Justice Paul Newby appointed Dr. Donald van der Vaart as the new Chief Administrative Law Judge and Director of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). As a licensed attorney and engineer, Dr. van der Vaart brings a wealth of administrative law and practical regulatory experience to OAH. After earning a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Cambridge University and a juris doctor from North Carolina Central University, van der Vaart served in the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. There, he held the positions secretary, deputy secretary, North Carolina energy policy advisor, and air quality manager.
"Dr. van der Vaart is a multi-disciplined expert who has accumulated a vast amount of experience in regulatory, legal, and administrative operations," said Chief Justice Newby. "His skill set is a great fit for directing OAH."
In 2018, van der Vaart was appointed to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board, and was reappointed in 2020. He serves on the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission and has authored nearly 50 papers on technical and legal topics.
OAH is a quasi-judicial agency that provides administrative law judges to preside in contested cases of administrative law. In addition, OAH deals with the procedure which governs rulemaking for North Carolina state agencies, and is designated as a 706 deferral agency of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.