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February 13, 2012

A Tribute to Svitlana Kravchenko

Beloved Oregon Law Professor Svitlana Kravchenko, Director of the school’s LL.M. program in Environmental and Natural Resources Law, passed away on Friday, February 10, 2012, in Eugene, Oregon. She was 62.

Dr. Kravchenko is remembered as an international force in environmental law. During her brief time in the hospital, more than 300 messages offering support and prayers arrived from more than 60 countries. Environmental advocates and scholars around the world have suggested that a global treaty protecting citizens’ rights to information, participation, and access to courts, especially in environmental matters, would be the best way to continue Dr. Kravchenko’s vision.

Below are tributes to and remembrances of Professor Kravchenko. Please send tributes to agreen@uoregon.edu
for posting to this page.

The University of Oregon School of Law has been forever shaped by the extraordinary energy, passion, and wisdom of Svitlana.  Our students, our programs, our school, our world – all are indebted to her.  Although today I feel profound sorrow for her passing, I know that in the years to come I will continue to be inspired by Svitlana’s indomitable spirit.  I am so grateful to have known her and to have been influenced through my interactions with this very special person.

Many, many people, from all over the world, have reached out in recent days, asking what they can do to be supportive or to express their sorrow.  The tributes we are collecting here reflect the thoughts and feelings of only a small fraction of the people whose lives Svitlana touched and positively impacted.

— Michael Moffitt, Philip H. Knight Dean, University of Oregon School of Law

I am so deeply saddened. We have lost a giant – a giant mind, a giant heart, a giant soul. And the sadness feels as enormous as Svitlana’s amazing legacy.

John – may you find some measure of peace and comfort in the love of
family and friends. Lana’s spirit will live on in everyone that knew her
and her work. Our community will never be the same without her and we
are forever changed by our all-too-brief time with her.

— Adell Amos, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Professor, Oregon Law

I am so grateful to have known Lana and to have had the opportunity to work with her.  I have no more words to express my sadness.  

— Roberta Mann, Frank Nash Professor of Law, Oregon Law

I cannot find words that even approach the scale of sadness that Lana’s passing leaves in my heart. I do know that the moment I met Lana, I knew she was extraordinary, a gift to this Earth, a gift to John, a gift to all of us who could be privileged to know her. John and Lana’s extraordinary partnership in law, in academics, in marriage, has touched all corners of the world.

Beloved across nations, across cultures, across generations, Lana’s spirit and legacy will now grow unbounded within all of us who cherish her.

— Mary Wood, Philip H. Knight Professor, Faculty Director, Environmental and
Natural Resources Law Program, Oregon Law

Svitlana was an incredible hero for humanity and the environment, a bright ray of light for the world. Her loss is devastating. I take comfort in knowing that her legacy, ever expanding, will live on as we all strive to honor her, and as we all try to make her dream of an equitable, just, and healthy planet come true.

— Heather Brinton, Managing Director, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program

Our hearts go out to you and your family in this saddest of moments. Svitlana was a precious member of our Law School family who will be sorely missed. She helped to open our eyes and those of the world to the important connections between the environment and human rights. Please permit me to share one recollection about Svitlana.

One afternoon in May 2000, I rode for miles in the back of an old car with Lana over badly potted Ukrainian roads as she explained the desperate circumstances of the mining town of Sosnivka that we were to visit. She was to report on a scientific study commissioned by her Institute. The town’s water system and farming land were contaminated with heavy metals from the mining. On arrival, the results of the scientific study were explained to the group, and we listened to the stories of mothers, fathers and city officials of the terrible diseases that were killing and harming their children from the contaminated wells and crops.

They could not leave and lose their homes and meager wages; they could not stay because proximity was killing their children. Throughout the day, Svitlana sat patiently asking questions and giving advice as she helped the community organize and plan protests before the Parliament. These were the early days of the post Soviet era and Ukrainians were unfamiliar and frightened by the thoughts of petition and protest. But Svitlana knew their power and was unafraid; her courage gave the people in that room the courage to invoke the tools and freedoms of their newly born democracy. They wanted her to speak for them, but she understood that she could help them more if she could persuade them to action; they needed to organize, choose leaders, and act. On our departure, the community members hugged, kissed, and thanked Svitlana.

As we rode back to Lviv that evening, I knew that I had witnessed something important about democratic evolution, and that Svitlana was transforming from an environmental lawyer to a democracy builder. I knew then and now that Svitlana was a very special person I was privileged to know and have as a friend and colleague.

— Dom Vetri, Professor Emeritus, Oregon Law

Dear Colleagues,

It was a big shock for us to know that Svitlana Kravchenko are not with us anymore. She was very kind person and God-gifted scholar, in Ukraine we are all study on her books and articles.

We kept in touch even she left Ukraine and become well known all over the world. We also want to express a deep condolences to the family and colleagues of Svitlana Kravchenko. She always will be alive in our thoughts and hearts.

— The Principal : Valentyna Vasylieva, the head of the sector of environmental law : Nadiya Kobetska, Professors of the sector : Svitlana Romanko, Galyna Moroz, Zoryana Yaremak and others.

Law Institute of Prykarpatsky
National University
After Vasyl Stefanyk
Shevchenka str., 57

My thoughts were with Svitlana since I got the email about her condition last week. I was very grateful to work in the same building with her and see her often. It is impossible to accept that loss. I want to express my deepest condolences to the family.

— Elena Chertok, Serials Specialist, Jaqua Law Library, Oregon Law

I never had the privilege of meeting Svitlana, but I did talk to her on the phone several times and we exchanged e-mails occasionally. Nevertheless, I felt that I knew her because of all I have heard about her from her many friends and colleagues. (My friend and colleague Associate Dean and Professor Fred Cheever often told me about her and her many contributions.) She was much admired and enormously respected. It is clear from the outpouring of comments on the listserve that she was loved and will be greatly missed.

Perhaps, in some ways, the measure of a person is what others say after he or she is gone. To the degree that is the case, her life was (and will continue to be for all those she touched) a success at the highest level any of us can achieve. Despite her physical absence, which will no doubt be hard for John and their families, her spirit will live on as a bright and shining inspiration for everyone who knew

Godspeed to her spirit and to John in the times ahead.

— Don C. Smith, Lecturer and Director, Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program, University of Denver Sturm College of Law

I was most distressed to learn of the passing away of Prof. Svitlana Kravchenko,and I am deeply saddened by this loss. In the fall of 2007, I was invited and fully sponsored to participate in a three-month Environmental Leader Fellowship at ELAW. I studied intensive English at the American English Institute (AEI) on the UO campus and visited with local environmental law professors. It was during my memorable stay at ELAW and UO that I had the honor to get acquainted with Professors Svitlana Kravchenko and John Bonine. I visited her classromms, gave a brief presentation in her class, read her book with the title of Human Rights and the Environment, was invited to a wonderful dinner in their nice house, and shared their encyclopedic information in the field of environmental law. I was greatly indebted for their kind hospitality. As an accomplished scholar, she was well appreciated by the larger academic community, and she reserved a special fondness for international students including me. At the end of 2011, she wrote back to me to ask if Ningbo University of China had LL.M.Program in Environmental Law and wanted to collaborate with us. I do wish she had visited our university in her lifetime. I will cherish the memory of her forever.

— Cai Xianfeng, Professor of Law, Ningbo University School of Law, PRC

818 Fenghua Road, Jiangbei District, Ningbo , Zhejiang Province,
315211, People’s Republic of China

I will always cherish memories of Svitlana. I’ll remember her joyful spirit, her warm embrace, the way she never forgot a birthday, her refusal to stop moving forward even when obstacles were thrown in her way. Svitlana was a mother to her students and a caring colleague to all of us at the law school. I will never forget her.

— Margie Paris, Professor of Law, Oregon Law

Her warm smile as she squinched her eyes a bit and looked intently into yours as you spoke, the wrinkle of her brow as she pondered a problem and then gave you her best suggestion on how that problem might be solved, the clarity and perceptiveness of her thinking, her expression of annoyance when on yet one more occasion a short-sighted politician or callow journalist got the facts and logic of an important environmental issue completely and sometimes knowingly wrong—these are among the things we will always remember of Svitlana. Given the continuing efforts of the so-many people she taught and with whom she worked, her accomplishments and her example will long continue to help set things sustainably right on this embattled planet of ours.

— Zygmunt Jan Broël Plater, Professor of Law, Boston College Law School

It is a very sad and shocking news. Prof. Svitlana Kravchenko was well-known across Ukraine as a highly qualified specialist and did a lot for presenting and implementing the Western approarches in environmental legislation.My deepest condolences to her family and friends.

— Valentina V. Pidlisnyuk, Professor, Matej Bel University, Slovakia & Kremenchuk National University, Ukraine

All of us at ELAW mourn the passing of our beloved partner, Svitlana Kravchenko. We have benefited enormously from working with Svitlana over the past 17 years and we will miss her.

Svitlana worked tirelessly to strengthen the rule of law, protect the earth, and advance human rights around the world. She was determined to give citizens around the world a voice in decisions about their planet and their future. She fearlessly challenged powerful interests and pursued change through writing, teaching, advocacy, organizing, and personal persuasion. She brought a warmth, passion, beauty, and joy to her work that lifted all of us and will continue to inspire us.

Svitlana and her husband, ELAW founder and director John Bonine, formed an inspiring and dynamic team. They wrote together, taught together, traveled together, and worked together to make the world a better place. We send our condolences to John and to Svitlana’s daughter, Maria Kostytska, a lawyer practicing in Paris. We also send condolences to Svitlana’s niece, Olena Kravchenko, and her team at the environmental law organization that Svitlana founded and Olena leads in Lviv: Environment-People-Law.

Svitlana touched people all over the world. ELAW partners from more than 60 countries around the globe have grieved together and shared memories of Svitlana. Even in passing, she has made the worldwide ELAW network stronger.

— Bern Johnson, Executive Director, Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide

I am deeply moved by Dr. Kravchenko’s passing and I am aware of the
profound loss it means for her loved ones, Oregon Law school, as well
as environmental law scholars everywhere…as well as environmental
fighters. Her passion and struggle for environmental democracy will
not be forgotten since she has already led a clear path for
generations to come. May we proudly and surely carry her legacy on.

— Carla Aceves-Avila, University of Guadalajara, Mexico.

I have personally lost a dear friend. Svitlana was, by far, the greatest woman I’ve known — a lover of people and the world. Svitlana touched people of the world with not only her knowledge, but her thoughtfulness and warmth.

— Debby Warren, Faculty Support/Administrative Assistant, Oregon LL.M. Program in Environment and Natural Resource Law, Oregon Law

It is with great sadness that we send our love and condolences to John Bonine, Svitlana’s family and the Law School. Svitlana and John do great things in the world and never forget the smallest details that lay the ground work for the whole. Svitlana and John always thought to make sure that all the new grad students started the UO with an opportunity to model their work through individual actions… refillable water bottles, mugs and shopping bags. They taught their students to act like true environmental activists from the moment they set foot at the UO Law School. Thank you so much for coming our way albeit it a brief moment… your being and your work has been ignited endless power from all of us to carry on your legacy. The smallest connection with Svitlana and John made the biggest impression. Thanks for recycling Svitlana, we promise to carry your legacy and work to generations to come. We honor you, John and your family.

With love, UO Campus Recycling Program

Submitted by Karyn Kaplan, Recycling Program Manager, University of Oregon

In thinking about a memorial for Svitlana, I recalled this beautiful 2009 ELAW interview with John and Svitlana that I borrowed for my comparative environmental law course, and thought you might find it as inspiring as my students and I did:

— Lin Harmon, Assistant Dean and Director, Environmental Law Programs, Pace Law School

Professor Svitlana Kravchenko was one of my heroes. No words can adequately convey the sadness I feel. My heart goes out to John, Maria and her other loved ones. She was an inspiration to so many students, particularly those of us who shared her passion for environmental rights. She had an unparalleled combination of energy, intelligence, leadership, a great sense of humor and a beautiful spirit. I know that for me, her impact has already come full circle in the few years since I graduated. She mentored me and so many others to help us shape our visions and pursue our dreams as we set out on a path to improve people’s lives and protect the environment. 

It’s hard to imagine visiting the U of O without her there, or not being able to get her advice about a potential career move, or not seeing her smile and sharing a laugh with her. Just being around her and absorbing her wisdom lifted us up in so many ways. As I thought about what to write, I remembered a photo we took when we met up at COP 15 in Copenhagen. In it, Svitlana, John and I are holding up the world — or at least trying. Losing her support and leadership in the fight for the future of the planet is devastating. But Svitlana built a strong foundation for her students to stand on, and she left behind a ripple effect that will continue to make the world a better place well into the future generations to which she so often referred. She would want us to continue the fight, even as we struggle under the immense weight of global environmental challenges. And that’s what we’ll do. Thank you for everything Svitlana, you will be deeply missed.


— Rachel Kastenberg, Class of 2006

My heart is with John and all of Svitlana’s family at this sad time. I was fortunate to meet Svitlana during the very first week when USAID sent me to work on legal reform in Ukraine in January 1994. During my two and a half years in the country I was continually struck by the incredibly effective work that Svitlana and the organization she founded did to protect the environment of Ukraine in very difficult conditions. Svitlana cared about people and was always there to help.
She loved and was loved by all around her. Svitlana will be missed.

— Michael Goldstein, former Chief of Party USAID Rule of Law Program for
Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova

I am deeply saddened to learn of Svitlana’s passing. Our offices were
next to each other last year when I visited the University of Oregon,
and I was constantly amazed at her energy and zeal for doing good
around the world. I loved to hear the tales of her travels. She helped
me realize that we must keep trying to change the world for the
better, even when it seems futile to do so.

My sympathies go out to John and the entire Oregon Law School

— Lance Long, Associate Professor of Legal Skills, Stetson University College of Law

Dear Dr.Svitlana Kravchenko

Today is a sad day.
I have just known that you had passed away on 10th February.

I would like express my deep sorrow for your passing away,
and pray for the repose of your soul.

I am shocked by this news because it was only the Christmas day
we exchanged e-mails for seasonal greetings.

Although it is less than a year since I came to know you, I feel a great loss.
You had a great personality and kindly introduced me to key persons in Hungary.
Without knowing you, my field research in Hungary might not have been
such a fruitful one.
I would like to express my sincere appreciation to you, again.

Although you wished to read my thesis, I could not deliver a copy.
I am sorry, but I will complete as soon as possible.

I remember, you had a strong passion to improve environmental governance
by diffusing the three pillars of the Aarhus Convention and entrenching the
practices based on these principles.
While you were there, I could not make any contribution.
However, I would like to do some from now on so that you can see
the torch you lit will be succeeded over generations.

— Mahito Shindo, PhD Candidate, Macquarie Law School, Macquarie University, Australia

I imagine the welcoming face of Svitlana as she greeted Land Air Water students in our backyard last summer. I recall her passion for law in the public interest as she and her niece joined with us on a panel on protecting people and the environment from pesticides and other toxics at last year’s PIELC. Svitlana Kravchenko and John Bonine both have
inspired – continue to inspire – our work at the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides. The world is a better place for Svitlana having lived and worked as she did. We admired her as so many do – for living her deep convictions and her passion. She demonstrated tenaciousness that comes with the fierce fire in the belly of knowing
you can make a difference. And not stopping until you do. Svitlana’s work carries on in so many.

— Kim Leval, Executive Director and Board and Staff of the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides

Svitlana was an extremely inspirational and powerful person and was equally modest and selfless. As a professor, she had the ability to see a person’s true potential and the strength, charisma, and passion to direct that potential to make a real difference in the world. She was a relentless and influential proponent of human rights and the environment. Even a small amount of time learning from her made a potent impact on any open mind. We should all feel inspired to take what she has shared and use our lives to make a strong and positive difference. Thank you Svitlana for all that we may enjoy as a result of your radiant impact on the world.

— Mariah Kennedy, University of Oregon School of Law, Class of 2009

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