[updated Jan. 2, 2018]
With great sadness we announce the death of Gil Kujovich, Professor Emeritus of Vermont Law School. Professor Kujovich, 71, passed away after a long illness in the company of his loving wife, Joni Chenoweth, and family on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, in Boston, Mass.
“Our hearts are heavy as we share the news of the passing of Professor Gil Kujovich,” said President and Dean Thomas McHenry. “He and Joni are friends and mentors to many Vermont Law School alumni, faculty, and staff. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kujovich family.”
Professor Kujovich joined the Vermont Law School faculty in 1981 and made many lasting contributions to the VLS community during nearly 35 years of service before retiring in 2014. Deeply respected by former students, faculty, and staff members, Professor Kujovich was as admired for his warmth, generosity of spirit, and sense of humor as he was for his intellect, academic scholarship, and leadership on affirmative action and equality in education.
Professor Kujovich was born in 1946 in Chicago, Ill. A U.S. Army veteran, he graduated cum laude from Middlebury College in 1969 and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1975. He worked in the U. S. Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuit for Judge Shirley Hufstedler and went on to clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Potter Stewart and Byron White. He also worked as special assistant to the general counsel in the U.S. Department of Defense, chief counsel to the White House Intelligence Oversight Board, and assistant to the United States Secretary of Education.
He drew on his professional experience to teach at VLS, specializing in Constitutional Law, Civil Rights Law, and Administrative Law. In addition to his courses in these areas, he taught Federal Courts, Race and the Law, and Civil Rights Seminar. He served as faculty advisor to countless students on their Advanced Writing Requirement and Independent Research Projects. He also served as VLS vice dean for academic affairs and as the school’s first interim associate dean for student affairs and diversity.
He published numerous articles on affirmative action, desegregation, and diversity, and his important work in these areas contributed to bringing long-overdue diversity to legal education and to the legal profession. “Past and continuing inequality at every level of the separate system of black public education created a self-perpetuating cycle of deprivation,” Professor Kujovich wrote in “Equal Opportunity in Higher Education and the Black Public College: The Era of Separate But Equal,” published by Minnesota Law Review in 1987.
“Gil Kujovich made sure that we put into place the resources to support students like me in law school,” said VLS Associate Dean Shirley Jefferson JD’86, a former student who has modeled much of her work in the Office of Student Affairs and Diversity on Professor Kujovich’s example, referring to the educational deprivation she experienced in her youth in the still-segregated public school system of Selma, Ala. That deprivation left her ill-prepared for law school, and she struggled at VLS until Professor Kujovich intervened. He identified the shortcomings in her former education and took responsibility for rectifying them—for not only Shirley Jefferson, the second black woman to attend VLS, but for all students of color at the law school.
“I am a living example,” Jefferson said. “He was trying to make right what had happened in this country. His dedication is a prime example of what this country can do to correct past discriminations.”
In addition to his commitment to diversity and equality in education and the legal profession, Professor Kujovich was a leading advocate for civil unions, or same-sex marriage. Seventeen years ago, in 2000, he explained to our nation—through his informed, objective, and otherwise compelling testimony to the Vermont legislature, the first in the nation to allow civil unions—the constitutional requirements for legally recognizing these unions. He testified numerous times before House and Senate judiciary committees, responding to federal and state constitutional concerns.
“Professor Kujovich’s erudite, disinterested—but not uninterested—testimony on the constitutional requirements of equal protection and due process helped convince many wavering members of the legislature that the state and federal constitutions required a law mandating full equality for same-sex couples,” said Professor Greg Johnson, an expert in sexual orientation and the law and constitutional law. “The legislature kept calling Professor Kujovich back to testify because of his unparalleled command of complex constitutional subjects. He educated the Vermont legislature on what the Constitution requires and in this way was instrumental in advancing the cause of LGBT marriage equality.”
Professor Kujovich is survived by his beloved wife of 21 years, Joni Chenoweth, of Indianapolis, Ind.; loving family, including his sister, Jody Kujovich, and brother-in-law, Ken Strothkamp, of Portland, Ore.; his brother, Larry Kujovich, and sister-in-law, Susie Kujovich, of Chicago, Ill.; his brother, Ray Kujovich, and sister-in-law, Rose Kujovich; his sister, Elaine Haller, and her daughter, Heather; his brother-in-law, Michael Chenoweth, and sister-in-law, Pamela Pierce, of Coral Gables, Fla.; his sister-in-law, Maria Sinkford, and brother-in-law, Bill Sinkford, of Portland, Ore.; his sister-in-law, Sara Chenoweth, of Greensboro, N.C.; his brother-in-law, John Chenoweth, and sister-in-law, Claudia Chenoweth, of Portland, Ore.; his beloved cousin, Donna Djujic, of Torrance, Calif.; his nieces, Sheri, Natasha, Zoe, and Josie; his nephews, Nate, Rob, and Frederic; his great-niece, Emily; his great-nephews, Joshua and Jonah; and his dear friends, Tish Thompson, Robert Dietz and Tina Hoffmann, Shirley Jefferson, Anna Saxman, Clara Gimenez, Michael Hill, Heide Scheurer, Rory and Nancy Fairman, and many others.
A memorial service for Professor Kujovich will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at Vermont Law School. A reception will follow. His family asks that any gifts in Professor Kujovich’s memory be sent to the World Wildlife Fund, 1250 24th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20037. Cards of condolence may be sent to Joni Chenoweth, P.O. Box 418, East Barre, VT, 05649.
A tribute page has been established on the Vermont Law School website, at vermontlaw.edu/blog/tribute/gil-kujovich, where members of the greater VLS community can share their thoughts and memories of Professor Kujovich.
Nov. 16, 2017
This month, Vermont Law School named longtime Professor Gil Kujovich Professor Emeritus, recognizing the many contributions he has made to the VLS community since joining the faculty in 1981. Deeply respected by former students, faculty and staff members, Professor Kujovich is as admired for his warmth, generosity of spirit, and sense of humor as he is for his intellect, academic scholarship, and leadership on affirmative action and equality in education. He retired in 2014 but his contributions to Vermont Law School are lasting.
“He has been my mentor since my very first days on this campus,” says Associate Dean Shirley Jefferson JD’86. One of his first prodigies, she has modeled much of her work in the Office of Student Affairs and Diversity on Professor Kujovich’s example. “He made sure that we put into place the resources to support students like me at VLS.”
Students like me. Dean Jefferson refers to a history of inequality in U.S. education and the educational deprivation she experienced in her youth in the still-segregated public school system of Selma, Ala. That deprivation left her ill-prepared for law school, and she struggled at VLS until Professor Kujovich stepped in. He identified the shortcomings in her former education and took responsibility for rectifying them—for not only Shirley Jefferson, the second black woman to attend VLS, but for all students of color at VLS. “I’m a living example,” she says. “He was trying to make right what had happened in this country. His dedication is a prime example of what this country can do to correct past discriminations.”
Professor Kujovich, a U.S. Army veteran, graduated cum laude from Middlebury College and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. He worked in the U. S. Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuit for Judge Shirley Hufstedler and went on to clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Potter Stewart and Byron White. He also worked as special assistant to the general counsel in the U.S. Department of Defense, chief counsel to the White House Intelligence Oversight Board, and assistant to the United States Secretary of Education.
He drew on his professional experience to teach at VLS, specializing in Constitutional Law, Civil Rights Law, and Administrative Law. In addition to his courses in these areas, he taught Federal Courts, Race and the Law with Dean Jefferson, and Civil Rights Seminar with Professor Clara Gimenez JD’03, whom he also mentored. He served as faculty advisor to countless students on their Advanced Writing Requirement (AWR) and Independent Research Projects (IRP). He also served as VLS vice dean for academic affairs and as the school’s first interim associate dean for student affairs and diversity.
He published numerous articles on affirmative action, desegregation, and diversity. During the debate on civil unions he was called on to testify concerning the constitutionality of the civil union, or same-sex marriage. He testified numerous times before the House and Senate Judiciary committees, responding to federal and state constitutional concerns.
Professor Kujovich is not one to back down. Although he may not have liked it, students fondly referred to him as “Kujo,” remembers Dean Jefferson. And as VLS faculty colleagues, he continued to mentor her even after he retired. She would sometimes find him sitting in the back of her Race and the Law class, quietly observing. “He is a real perfectionist and tried to make me one—after 35 years I still owe him a final draft of my AWR,” she jokes.
Another former student, Michael Hill, echoes Dean Jefferson’s sentiments. “Although I went to two law schools and had great professors at both, Gil was hands-down the best—pushing us all further than we thought possible, all while staying on the positive and making us feel better about ourselves and our abilities. As we’ve stayed in touch over now more than 35 years, he still pushes me (I remember his look of clear disappointment a few years back when I’d plainly forgotten the holding in a Con Law decision we’d covered in 1981). Shortly after my wife and I bought a home in Vermont, he gave me a high-intensity flashlight for night walks that shines far brighter, far further, and with far greater focus than I’d thought possible. A great metaphor for this great teacher and man.”
Send Well Wishes to Professor Kujovich
Recently Professor Kujovich has been unable to participate in the functions of the school due to serious illness. In April, he received a stem cell transplant for myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of cancer of the bone marrow, which has created many medical issues. Well wishes and cards may be sent to 161 S. Huntington Avenue, Apartment #217, Boston, MA 02130.
He hopes that sometime in the future he will be able to again participate in Vermont Law School functions.
***Personal tributes from alumni, faculty, and staff are published below. Share yours by clicking on the “submit” button at right.
"Me: Why don’t we hear much about the Ninth Amendment, Gil? Seems to me it could support an argument that --- Gil: Shhhh, keep it down! There’s no such thing as the Ninth Amendment. Everybody knows that."
"Professor Kujovich was the only professor I ever had whose depth of knowledge and enthusiasm for conveying it exceeded my ability to keep up with note taking. He exhibited a rare confluence of dazzling brilliance and true humility and caring. He was deeply dedicated to helping all of us understand injustices that had occurred, and to giving us the tools to help stop future injustices. I join the VLS community in mourning this great loss and in celebrating the life of a true scholar and gentleman."
"Con law professors are god-like to idealistic law students. Speaking the language of rights and liberties so fluently is something we all aspire to, and Professor Kujovich was one of the smartest people I ever met. But never in a way that was cold, or off-putting. He was also the first person who showed me I might have a knack for the law. At the end of Con Law 1, he promised his bottle of "Ollie's BBQ Sauce to whomever Am Jur -ed the con law I exam. I was not a gunner, had not yet finished a single semester, and was just shooting for good enough not to derail my career. Somehow, I managed to win, and Professor Kujovich was so kind. This gave me confidence, and his example inspired me to be a con law guru like him. I displayed that Ollie's BBQ sauce for years in my office in Florida, where it was a constant reminder of the type of lawyer I wanted to be. He didn't know me well, and probably never knew what an impact he has had on my career, but I feel lucky to have learned from him."
Suzanne Iselt JD'96:
"I worked for Professor Kujovich during my second year at VLS, 1995. He was so brilliant and so motivated that I must confess I was quite in awe of him. He will always serve as a shining example of the very best in ethics and equity, as well as hard work and determination. I don't know if I have every met anyone with such a gifted intellect. He will be missed."
"Prof Kujovich helped lead me into human rights work. I distinctly recall his probing, searing, thought provoking inquiries to students in his Civil Rights Seminar that I have passed on to many groups – giving credit to Prof Kujovich. I have sincerest gratitude for his life and thoughtfulness."
Karen Lueders JD'85:
"From the write up I found out that Professor Gil Kujovich arrived at Vermont Law School the year before I did, and I do remembering marveling that someone so young, (it is the 1983 photo I recognize), could have such substantial credentials, and possess a quiet and understated brilliance. I remember feeling deeply fortunate to have landed in a place that had such a person on its faculty. He was a wonderful professor that inspired not only intellectual pursuits, but also caring and compassionate pursuits. He was an activist. His efforts on civil rights were inspiring and inclusive and I am forever grateful for his efforts and my fortunate involvement on this most essential and pressing issue. He is one who has made a difference and done so with grace."
"The loss of Professor Kujovich to the VLS community will be profound, but we are especially grateful to his immediate family and friends for sharing so much of him with us. He helped form my foundation as an attorney, exposed unique complexities within the law, but most importantly, helped me recognize the true impact of our profession in the world. I will continue to carry his wisdom throughout the rest of my career and be a better person because of him."
Kimberly Reid, JD'05:
"I did not believe I could love the Constitution any more than I did going into Kujo's Con Law class. Not only did he give me a greater love for it, he broadened my understanding and appreciation for my role as an attorney in that context. I've always appreciated that, especially in times like these. He was a great professor and mentor. He will be missed."
"Professor Kujovich understood the essential difference between human nature and humanity; he taught to ensure the betterment of the former, he lived the exemplar of the latter. He was and remains a constant of my time at VLS. For those who value truth, a true warrior has departed the field."
"During my four years as an associate professor at VLS (2008-2012) there was not a kinder and more supportive colleague on campus than Gil. He exuded the kind of humanity we would all like to think a life in the law would engender in us. I will not forget how Gil reached out to help me in a time of personal and professional struggle; I will never forget what I owe him. To me, Gil was the very soul of VLS and I am sorry I did not know he was ill and did not have a chance to bid him farewell."
Jack Hornickel JD/MELP'15:
"Professor Kujovich held the inspiring mix of brilliance and warmth. Along with the memory of him dancing on the table, Kujo also left me the phrase "You vote the bums out!"- a faux-enraged, ultimately coy reminder of what power is left to the citizen whose Congress fails to act. Above all I am saddened that his legal expertise, humanist wisdom, clear word, and lifetime of integrity are lost to future generations of students."
Margo Howland JD'86:
"I was shocked and saddened to read of the passing of Professor Gil Kujovich, one of the most challenging professors at Vermont Law School. He had a brilliant mind and a sharp wit, and wore a tweed jacket and jeans to class. We always loved it when he shared "war stories" and anecdotes in his classes (I took Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Federal Courts). One day, after having given us a particularly tough assignment, he launched into one of his wonderful anecdotes. We were taking it all in, enjoying the story, when a classmate who had evidently stayed up late to get through the entire assignment, raised her hand and said, "Professor Kujovich, aren't you going to talk about [whatever the class assignment was}?" The professor stopped in mid-sentence and said, "Well, certainly ---" while the rest of us turned around and gave the classmate dagger looks. I think she realized she had stepped in it, and the bell rang shortly after that. But he was someone who inspired dedication in his students. R.I.P., Kujo!!"
"Around 1987 I began working on a law-related book, Regulatory Takings. I knew some law from short courses, but I realized as I went along that I needed a wider view. Jonathan Chase, then Dean at VLS, encouraged me to audit some courses there, and one of them was Constitutional Law, taught by Gil Kujovich. What a great course that was! It covered legal doctrine and history. Gil’s personal comments gave it a flavor that continue to influence my work. He thought his subject was important, but not so important that other factors in Constitutional law, such as popular will and legislative deliberation, should be excluded. There was a modesty and wry humor in his classroom leadership. He wanted even the shy students to participate, and so he did his best not to intimidate despite his formidable knowledge. Thanks again for a great course, and thanks for being a great guy."
"Professor Kujovich was one of my favorite VLS professors. I always looked forward to his constitutional law class. He exhibited a rare confluence of absolute brilliance and deep kindness and caring. I join the VLS community in mourning his passing."
John Holler JD'85:
"Undoubtedly one of the most brilliant and dedicated professors I ever had. I loved chatting with him at the Friday afternoon keggers in front of the main classroom building. My thoughts will be with his family and friends today."
Susan Boyle Ford:
"So saddened by this news. I didn't have Professor Kujovich as a classroom teacher but we spoke one day about an issue I cared about and I ended up being his research assistant and doing my independent research and writing project with him. He was incredibly bright and so caring. He will be greatly missed."
"I am so saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and former colleague Gil. Gil was a special person in so many ways. He was so very funny, so very passionate, and so, so kind. I was blessed to be able to call him my friend. I will miss him."
"I graduated from the MSEL program in 2002. Kujovich's Admin Law class, probably more than any other, brought me into the world of regulatory and administrative statutory analysis, and inspired me and gave me confidence that i could succeed. And he was very supportive to me personally. I'm grateful for having met him and learned from him."
"Prof. Kujovich was committed to his students, and was dedicated to ensuring all voices were heard in his classroom. I will always value his leadership, compassion, and superior intellect."
"I've known and respected Gil for the almost thirty years we worked together at VLS. As others have said, he had a wonderful mind, and during his years as associate dean, I came to appreciate his ironic wit. At the time he became associate dean I was library director and we met at least monthly. I wondered at first how he would do at an administrative post, but was thrilled to discover that he was an excellent administrator who listened well, a quality that not every administrator has. He will be much missed."
Marie Legrand Miller:
"Professor Kujovich was one of my favorite professors at VLS. His passion for the subjects he taught was contagious, and his influence on my own law practice continues to this day. Rest in peace, Kujo ... You've trained more than enough lawyers who will continue to fight the good fight in your absence."
"I was in the class of 1984 and Professor Kujovich has been an enduring memory for his kindness and encouragement."
"Professor Kujovich was one of the most influential people I have ever met. He taught me to be passionate and outraged about the state of the world and how to channel those feelings catalyzing change. I will never forget how he forced me to hold my ground and articulate my feelings about abortion to the entire Con Law class by using the Socratic method and encouraging other students to argue against me. He also always made himself available for guidance and advice when I was having a frequent existential crisis. He was such an intelligent, humorous, and kind man and I will never forget all he did for me and for the community."
"He was inspiring and committed to justice. His memory will live on and will never be forgotten. ❤️"
"Professor Kujovich, 'Kujo,' was my constitutional law Professor my first year at VLS. A few weeks in, after wrapping up the commerce clause, he suggested that this would be a good time to outline this piece of our constitution. He said, 'What do I need to do to get you to outline this? Dance on the table?' He then proceeded to climb up on the table, dance a little jig, and sing, 'You need to outline the commerce clause!' A few years later, while studying for the bar, I was so stressed. But anytime this topic came up in my studies, I would remember Kujo dancing on the table and smile. He was such a gift to VLS and the class of 2015."
"My condolences to Professor Kujovich's family, this is such sad news, he was a wonderful man. Prof. Kujovich was my Administrative Law professor and I echo everyone who says he made a seemingly dry topic an evaluation on the balances of power within the branches of the federal government. I am forever grateful for his guidance in this class, as it shaped my life to where it is today."
"Professor Gil Kujovich was humble and funny and brilliant. A fair minded and good hearted person and great legal mind, he will always be a pillar of constitutional law and civil rights."
"Without question, one of the most thoughful, indeed brilliant, professors I have ever had to pleasure to know - and learn from. I know Prof Gil from that 1983 photo, his image will always stay with me. A great and learned man - with a real heart. I extend my deepest sympathies to his family. With great love and affection, Bob Walker, Honolulu, Hawaii."
"I am so sad to learn of Gil's death. Gil was extraordinarily kind, supportive, and generous to me as I traveled my long path into law teaching. I will be forever grateful to him for his friendship. I also am terribly sad that I did not know he was ill and was unable to reach out before he passed."
"I was lucky enough to take one of the few remaining classes Dean Kujovich was still teaching in 2012, Federal Courts. It was a terrifically hard class, taught by a terrifically smart and terrifically hilarious professor. Much to his chagrin, the students lovingly referred to him as Dean Kujo or simply Kujo. It was because we liked him so much. He seemed like one of ''us.' He had a mischievous twinkle in his eye and it was infectious. One of Dean Kujo’s claims to fame is that he would leave his coffee mugs all over campus. They were easy to identify: galloping horses. He either lost it everyday or had multiple mugs sprinkled all over campus. When you saw one of those mugs, it might as well have said 'Gil Kujovich was here.' Please find one of the mugs and leave out somewhere on campus in loving memory of Gil."
"When Gil was beginning his Washington career during the desegregation movement in the 70s I was working at one of the historically black schools in North Carolina. We talked about our overlap during our time together at VLS. Gil was a special colleague and a remarkable combination of administrator and teacher. Together Gil and Joni introduced Ginny and I to Maui, a destination to which we have returned several times. We will miss him."
"Gil Kujovich was a mentor, colleague, and friend. It is hard to put into just a few words what Gil meant to me, to our students, and to the entire VLS community. He will be greatly missed."
"It has been a personal pleasure and a professional honour to meet and work with Gil. A brilliant legal mind, a true friend, a great person. He made my time at VLS such an enjoyable journey both through US constitutional law and to a deeper knowledge of my real self. When he came to Trento, Italy, to teach in my class in minority and group rights, also my students were fascinated by his bright intellect and personal charme. Our joint visit to Venice is still pending ..."
"Gil was one of the kindest (and smartest) persons I encountered during my years teaching at Vermont Law School. I learned so much from him. The times that Tinling and I spent with Joni and Gil still make up many of our fondest memories of Vermont. We'll always treasure their friendship."
"Professor Kujovich was, hands down, the best professor I had the pleasure of learning from at Vermont Law School. His understanding of, and ability to teach Constitutional Law and Federal Courts have undoubtedly transformed my legal career, and also helped me pass several bar exams. Prof. Kujovich was also a humorous professor and generous mentor, often injecting light hearted stories into his rigorous curriculum, as well as providing strong guidance to his students. I wish him the best in his current fight, and hope to see him at VLS in the future."
Brenda K. Taite:
"I do not know where to begin to write about Professor Kujovich. He taught me how to dress during those harsh Vermont winters. I was sporting around the campus in the dead of winter with a long spring coat and summer shoes,until Professor Kujovich told me, "Brenda, you cannot wear those kind of clothes during the winter, you have to dress in layers and keep water, candy bars, a wool blanket and a shovel in your truck, just in case, you get stranded during the storm." I did take his advice and the next day he ran into me and said, "I am glad to see you are dressing in layers." During my second year of law school, my son Trevor and I spent Christmas Eve with Professor Kujovich and his lovely wife, Joni. Joni had prepared a delicious meal for us. I wrote to him recently to invite him to Trevor's medical school graduation in New York. He responded with congratulations on Trevor's success. I have to share this story about the problems that I was having my racist neighbors in Claremont, New Hampshire. One day, I was very upset at the mistreat that my son and I were facing at our apartment complex in Claremont. I shared it with Professor Kujovich and told him that it was a public housing complex and he said these words to me, "Go after their funding". When I arrived home that evening from VLS, I wrote a letter to the US Department of Justice and Housing and Urban Development and I returned the next day to school and shared it with Professor Kujovich and he told me the letter was perfect. I want to thank him for instilling in me the importance of civil rights and teaching me how to advocate for myself and others. I am so glad that my path crossed, Professor Gil Kujovich."
"Professor Kujovich was by far my favorite professor. He is smart and warm and kind - he was a big part of what made my VLS experience an amazing one. I hope that he heals well and soon."
"I had the pleasure of working for Gil for two years when he was Vice Dean of Academic Affairs. Gil was so encouraging and appreciative of my work and who I was that I felt inspired to give my absolute best. Gil is a rare one. I have never met anyone quite like him. He is genuinely curious about people. He wants to know you. He will draw you out of your skin with his poignant questions, listening deeply for underlying currents, gently probing and nudging you to go further. He cares about people and wants to help them advance. His sound advice comes from a place of compassion and benevolence, and you end up thinking you came up with the idea yourself. One time I asked him for a letter of reference, and he not only wrote me one that was superb and influential in the job offer I received, but he and his wife Joni invited me up to their house for a coaching session on how to have a successful interview! Gil is truly a unique and special individual. He has become and always will be one of my dearest friends."
"Gil was clearly the most brilliant legal mind this law school has ever seen and that mind served his ideals, his love of the students, and his commitment to the law school. It was an honor to know and work with him."
"The best thing about visiting Gil's office was the calm and peace of the quiet, classical music always playing. He was one of the first faculty I would recommend a struggling student to see, for any personal, academic, or social issues. He would always see them through the rough spots."
"Professor Kujovich's legacy at Vermont Law School continues to touch and inspire students. The alumni he mentored, students he inspired, and institution he helped to build have made a lasting impact on the State of Vermont, and the global legal community. Thousands of advocates, practicing across the globe have been touched by Professor Kujovich's mentorship and friendship. Many of these have returned to Vermont Law to inspire a new generation of advocates, ensuring that his legacy will continue."
"As I get ready to retire after 30 years with the VT Act 250 program, I can say I used Professor Kujovich's teachings in Administrative Law every day administering the Act, giving due process and opportunity to comment to all citizens who wish to be heard. Thank You Gil."
"I can honestly say that I’ve never met a person who more effectively combines the qualities of brilliance, kindness and humility than Professor Kujovich. I did not have Professor Kujovich for Constitutional law, but several of my best friends from Law School did. I heard stories from them, and as a result sought out opportunities to learn from him. I was incredibly privileged to take Federal Courts and a Civil Rights Seminar with him, and have him serve as my advanced writing requirement faculty advisor. There is no single person who has influenced my view of the power and inadequacies of the law, no person who has more shaped my vision of the virtue and incompleteness of the United States Constitution, and no person who made me more keenly understand that the true power of knowledge is utilizing it to inform and not insult. Thank you Professor Kujovich for all that you did for me, and for all that you have done and continue to do for countless students."
Crystal Abbey JD'15:
"Yes, we need you to do a jig in front of the class to convince us that we need to re-read the cases for the final exam. It was finals season during our 1L year and Prof. Kujovich was stressing the importance of re-reading or re-reviewing the cases. To stress just how important it was, he got up on the table in the front of the room and did a jig. In the process, he spilled his coffee or tea all over his lecture notes. Not missing a beat, he hopped down, wiped up the mess with his notes, and lectured the class without his notes--from memory. We sat in awe the entire class period. He is a brilliant professor and a wonderful mentor."
Professor David Firestone:
"One of the most sensitive people concerning the need to do something about discrimination—and someone who actually did something."
Tracey Lewis JD'09:
"One of the first things you learn in legal research & writing is don’t cite from the headnotes.
Do. Not. Cite. From. Head Notes.
When your AWR advisor clerked for two, count ‘em—one, two US Supreme Court Justices, he can spot a mistake in a footnote like the bears in his backyard spot a bird feeder—with great ease. In my defense, I was on the 5th rewrite, hadn’t slept in 2 days—delirious. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
But in my delirium, I could just make out the admonishment to triple check my citations, again. Gil told me that my paper was my calling card, the demonstration that my legal scholarship was impeccable. So back to Westlaw I went, bleary-eyed but strangely comforted.
Thankfully, there was no snow on the sunny spring morning, as I donned my black robe, fabulously imperial purple velvet hood and carried my swagalicous swan-topped mace. While marching to the village green, I laughed with my dear friends and classmates. I soon saw the faces of my family—sisters who traveled from Dubai, Baltimore and Italy with joy rolling down their cheeks. I saw my mom, who wouldn’t let a serious illness and 10 day hospital stay keep her from this moment. I saw my best friends from college and post-collegiate life cheering me on. My heart was full.
Dean Shields called out my name. Rising to receive my diploma, as Nina placed it in my shaking hands, she whispered with a knowing chuckle—“4:30 am, Tracey!!??” I spotted Prof. Kujovich in the front rows—he was probably more tired than I—but he gave me a knowing bushy smile. Like me—and Nina—he was up in the wee hours to check my submission.
What did John Milton say—that luck is the residue of design?
I respectfully disagree, because I could not have designed the set of circumstances which brought and kept Gil in Vermont from his days as an undergrad at Middlebury to almost 4 decades at VLS. Maybe there was some grand design which created the opportunity to teach at a young law school plopped in the middle of nowhere—to teach kids from around the globe about the emanations and penumbras of the Constitution, or to ignite the fire for social justice and civil rights.
Gil is Vermont Law School and Vermont Law School is Gil—the living personification of institutional memory and zealous advocacy, and he is and will always be part of our collective DNA.
Or maybe I’m wrong, and luck is the residue of design. Because the universe so ordered itself to bring us all together to learn from a great mind and beautiful spirit—our Kujo—and we are all the better for having met."
Professor Clara Gimenez JD’03:
"Gil Kujovich is a first rate professor and mentor but—most importantly—he is a a remarkable human being. One of the things I enjoy most of talking with Gil is that the conversation can easily meander from an intricate legal topic, to our shared interest in the care and feeding of hummingbirds and german shepherds, or a trashy TV show, and back into the complex issue where we started. No matter at which level you engage him, from the highest to the goofiest, you encounter an incredibly inquisitive mind, a terrific sense of humor, and a genuine curiosity for what others do and think."
[Clara Gimenez served as deputy vice dean during Professor Kujovich’s tenure as vice dean of academic affairs.]
Dean David Mears JD/MELP'91:
“I was lucky enough to have been able to know Gil Kujovich both when I was a student and later as his colleague. Professor Kujovich was my Administrative Law professor and made an otherwise dry, yet critical, subject come alive. He has also been a terrific mentor since I returned to VLS to teach, providing sage and kind counsel whenever needed. Perhaps most importantly, Gil Kujovich has served as a moral compass for the law school, consistently and steadily guiding all of us in the VLS community to live up to our highest ideals.”
Professor Bruce Duthu:
“I’ve appreciated Gil’s deep sense of humanity, and in particular, his concern for the welfare of students. I’ve always thought that this was a critically important attribute for our students to try to emulate in their work as legal advocates. In this way, Gil helped to make VLS an open, welcoming and supportive place for everyone.”
Jerry Howe MSL'83:
"When I enrolled at VLS, I was in mid-career and was on a one year sabbatic leave from my position. I had professional momentum and recognition, and then I met Gil. The greatest lesson that he taught me was to slow down and open my mind. He taught me that if I spent as much time trying to understand other perspectives as I did advocating for mine that it would enhance my professional standing and I would become more successful in my career. He was right. I went on with that knowledge to succeed and am now retired and reflecting on the insightful role that Gil had in my success. Thank you, Gil."
Kendra Brown JD'12:
"Dean Kujovich is as close to a Superhero as is humanly possible. Having clerked for 2 Supreme Court Justices, attended Harvard Law School, broke up his time in law school to serve in the military, served in a Presidential Administration—somehow he still found time to serve as a mentor to a student who came to law school with lofty aspirations to make a difference.....a law student named Kendra Brown, hailing from the Shenandoah Mountains of Winchester, Virginia. Dean Kujovich's legacy is a legacy that lives in each of us who sat under his tutelage. With his mastery of Constitutional Law, Civil Rights, and practically every facet of Administrative Law, he taught us to not only work hard to succeed in law school, but he taught us to work hard so that we can succeed in helping those that were awaiting our imprint in the fields of law, policy, and rulemaking. I am eternally appreciative of him talking me through difficult days and troublesome fact patterns and rules of law, as he is one of the critical components to the success of my career. Thank you, Dean Kujovich."
Dean Stephanie Willbanks:
"Gil was dedicated to students, particularly students of color. He unveiled the mysteries of law school for them, and he served as a reference and a connection to their first jobs. He demonstrated his commitment to affirmative action in his classes, his scholarship, and his mentoring of his colleagues and his students."
"As I sit and think about Gil what comes to mind is how he always was ready to help us in Admissions. He was the professor that I knew I could call and ask to speak with a prospective or admitted applicant and he would immediately say yes. When he would see me around campus he would always make it a point to say hello and ask how I was. Our conversation would end with him reminding me that he was available to help in any way that he could."
Professor Greg Johnson:
“Gil was kind enough to give me his extensive files on Constitutional Law when I was preparing to teach the course for the first time. Gil is a master of Constitutional Law—his notes and annotated cases proved invaluable in my preparation. In many ways, the students in my first class learned Professor Kujovich’s Con Law. I am forever indebted.”
Vice President Lorraine Atwood:
"Gil Kujovich is utterly brilliant and was fun to work with on a daily basis. He loves Vermont Law School and was devoted to his students."
Anna Saxman JD'85:
"Gil Kujovich was my favorite professor and I took at least three of his courses. I learned to deeply analyze the cases we studied and I worked hard to be prepared for his sometimes intense questioning. His incisive comments were moderated by his great sense of humor, although I think I wasn't always sure he was teasing me. His Federal Courts class was the most intellectually challenging class I took—a complex study of relationships. Following graduation, I was fortunate to continue a friendship with Gil and his wife Joni. I truly appreciate Gil's continuing support and interest in my legal career."
Professor Margaret Barry:
"While Joni’s devotion is his greatest resource, I know Gil’s strength of character and wry sense of humor are also serving him well. I only wish that this battle had not come his way. First, because no one should have to fight like this; second, Gil is a valued colleague and friend so it is particularly difficult to think of his struggle; and third, there are so many other battles that we need such an incisive and caring legal mind to pursue! I continue to hope for a swift recovery."