Vermont Law School professor Cheryl Hanna dies at 48

Vermont Law School professor Cheryl Hanna discusses the importance of the court case, the first filed under the state's Equal Pay Act, in front a Burlington courthouse on March 19, 2013. Photo by Nat Rudarakanchana

Vermont Law School professor Cheryl Hanna discusses the importance of the court case, the first filed under the state’s Equal Pay Act, in front a Burlington courthouse on March 19, 2013. Photo by Nat Rudarakanchana/VTDigger

Constitutional scholar and frequent media commentator Cheryl Hanna died Sunday at her home in Burlington, according to her colleagues at Vermont Law School.

Hanna, 48, served as vice president for external relations and professor of law at the South Royalton campus.

No details were available about the cause of Hanna’s death.

“Professor Hanna was a beloved teacher and role model to many within and beyond the Vermont Law School community,” a news release from the school said. “It is with heartache that we share this loss. She will be deeply missed by our faculty, staff, students, and alumni.”

Hanna was a regular contributor to many media outlets, including VTDigger. Her expertise on constitutional matters was essential to many Vermonters’ understanding of U.S. Supreme Court rulings, including issues surrounding campaign finance and same-sex marriage.

“I feel like I lost a member of my family and that we all lost a woman of great insight,” said Mark Johnson, host of WDEV’s The Mark Johnson Show on which Hanna was a frequent guest. “So smart, great at making complex cases understandable, she was a wonderful person, always cheerful, a smile to remember.”

Hanna received her Juris Doctor from Harvard in 1992 and joined Vermont Law School in 1994. She earned her undergraduate degree at Kalamazoo College in Michigan.

Much of her work focused on the status of women, according to Vermont Law School’s website.

She was the co-author of “Domestic Violence and the Law: Theory and Practice,” a casebook on violence against women, the VLS website said.

“Cheryl was a gifted teacher and storyteller who touched and inspired so many of us, young and old, imparting her deep knowledge of constitutional law while sharing personal insight into the ‘real life’ impacts on women and girls,” the Vermont Commission on Women said in a statement. “We will miss her intelligence, her voice and her power at our table.”

Hanna is survived by her husband and two children.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

“We will remember and honor Cheryl’s work to make the world a better, more just, and less violent place for all of us, and especially our daughters,” Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said in a statement.

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