Sister Janice Ryan, former university president, activist, dies | Vermont News

By WILSON RING, Associated Press

A Vermont nun who served as a college president, worked in Washington to ban landmines and served as the state Department of Corrections’ deputy commissioner has died.

Sister Janice Ryan died in a residential care facility in Winooski on March 30. She was 85 years old.

Ryan’s death was confirmed Monday by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington.

Vermont U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy said he and his wife Marcelle visited Ryan shortly before his death.

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“Sister Janice was a force of nature. She was a human dynamo,” Leahy said in a statement. “She made it her business to make policy makers feel uncomfortable to achieve real change to help those who are struggling. And indeed, she made a real difference.”

Ryan was born in Fairfield, Vermont on September 14, 1936. She graduated from high school at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Burlington, then earned a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in Burlington. In 1957, she took her religious vows with the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

She began her career as an elementary and middle school teacher. She went on to earn a master’s degree in special education, did further graduate work, and received honorary degrees.

“She was a champion for access to quality education for all, especially those with special needs, an advocate for those incarcerated, a peacemaker who fought for a ban on landmines around the world and so much more,” Bishop Christopher Coyne, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, said in tribute on the diocese’s website, “Her legacy will live on through the many lives she touched. “

From 1979 to 1996, Ryan served as president of Trinity College in Burlington, which closed in 2000 after financial difficulties. After leaving Trinity, Ryan became project director for the Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines in Washington.

She worked for a time for former Vermont Senator James Jeffords. In 2003, Ryan became the state’s deputy commissioner of corrections.

Ryan is survived by two sisters, a brother and numerous nieces and nephews and “his sisters in religion,” the Sisters of Mercy, his obituary states.

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