Beloved law professor of Vermont Law School Cheryl Hanna shocked staff and students after she unexpectedly died last Sunday. Although the cause of death has not been released, as of Tuesday night, police say that Cheryl Hanna, 48, was not a victim of foul play or suspicious circumstances.
The beloved professor and women’s rights advocate is being mourned by students who regarded her as a warm, supportive, and inspiration professor who knew how to translate difficult legalese into every day talk.
“People looked forward to going to her class. She cared about the students,” said law student Michael Pottetti, as reported by the Burlington Free Press.
“She was extremely active with equal pay issues, with equal pay law. She provided a lot of good information including testimony,” says Executive Director Cary Brown. “She had a real way of transforming what could be dry legal language and issues into something very lively and exciting that was really meaningful for the people she was sharing with. She leaves such a huge hole in so many ways.”
Faculty and students gathered Monday afternoon to commemorate her role as teacher at Vermont, a role she almost never got to have. As a student she was told by an advisor that she didn’t have the stuff of being a law professor. This shook her up, as she had decided to be a teacher at a young age, and later, decided specifically to be a law professor.
“For a good long while, I tried to shift gears,” she explained.” I passed on key opportunities, made not-so-smart personal choices, and even practiced law for a while. I was a terrible lawyer. I even passed out once in court.”
Trusting her gut, she went back to teach law, and found great success in her dream job. Her students resonated with her, and found her warm, personable, and willing to engage them one on one. She will be missed.
Hanna is survived by her husband and children.