UVM Embraces Sobel’s Children

Article published Oct 8, 2015

By Josh O’Gorman

BURLINGTON — The University of Vermont has offered scholarships to the daughters of a Department for Children and Families worker who was shot and killed in August.

The college will establish full scholarships to the children of Lara Sobel, who police said was slain outside her workplace in Barre by Jody Herring, who, according to court documents, was angry over the removal of her child from her home.

Sobel left behind two daughters, Julia and Elahna, and the scholarships will allow them to attend the same university as their mother.

“The University of Vermont is pleased to provide tuition scholarships for the children of Lara Sobel should they choose to attend UVM as undergraduates,” said UVM President Tom Sullivan. “Lara received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from UVM in social work and we would be proud and pleased to have her children continue her legacy here at the University of Vermont.”

Sobel’s father, Alex Sobel, discussed how the scholarships came about.

“UVM President Tom Sullivan sent Tim Faryniarz, Lara’s husband, a letter offering both girls a full-tuition scholarship,” Sobel said. “To my knowledge, the governor was the one behind this.”

Gov. Peter Shumlin discussed the motivation behind the scholarships.

“When I met with Lara’s dad and Tim’s brother shortly after Lara’s death, one of the things her dad expressed, and anyone would with a disaster like this, is concern over the girls’ educational future,” Shumlin said. “I told them the state would do everything it could for a heroic state employee who gave her life for the protection of Vermont’s children.”

News of the scholarships follows the announcement last week that the Vermont State Employees Association has established a fund to support — according to the donation page on the union’s website, www.vsea.org — the “health, welfare and educational needs of Lara’s girls.”

The shooting drew national attention and highlighted the hostility faced by people who work within child protective services, both within Vermont and across the country.

“In my view, here is someone who gave her life fighting for Vermont’s most vulnerable children, and we have an obligation to fight for her children,” Shumlin said.

“The entire family is grateful to the governor for his ongoing efforts and compassion during this difficult time,” Sobel said. “My wife and I continue to be so deeply impressed by so many aspects of the entire Vermont community as it continues with such support and caring for Lara’s family.”