University of Pittsburgh
August 18, 2009

Statement From the University of Pittsburgh on the Passing of J.W. Connolly, 75, Who Died Aug. 19 at UPMC St. Margaret

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-J. W. Connolly received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1958. He was elected to the Board of Trustees of the University of Pittsburgh in 1985. In 1994 he was elected as Chairperson Designate and in 1995 as Chairperson of the Board, a position he held for six years. He provided outstanding leadership that led to a period of dramatic growth and progress on all five campuses of the University. On the Oakland campus, physical improvements included the construction of the Bouquet Gardens Dormitory Complex and the John M. and Gertrude E. Petersen Events Center and the transformation of the former Masonic Temple to Alumni Hall.

During his first year as Chairperson, Mr. Connolly led a series of board retreats that resulted in five institutional priorities that were adopted by the Board in 1996. Those institutional priorities have continued to provide the framework for the University to be recognized as one of the nation's top public research universities.

When Mr. Connolly stepped down as Board Chairperson, in recognition of his devotion and outstanding leadership the Board of Trustees and the University named the ballroom of Alumni Hall the J. W. Connolly Ballroom. In 2006, Mr. Connolly was elected an emeritus trustee. Throughout his tenure on the Board, he was one of the University's most dedicated trustees. He served on numerous board committees and also served as First Vice Chairperson of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System Board of Directors and as Second Vice Chairperson of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian/Shadyside Joint Board of Directors.

Mr. Connolly was a recipient of the University Bicentennial Medallion and was honored as a Distinguished Alumni Fellow. J. W. Connolly and his wife, Shirley Connolly, were inducted into Pitt's Cathedral of Learning Society in recognition of their extraordinary devotion and generosity, which included the establishment of the J. Wray Connolly Jr. Scholarship Fund and the Connolly Family Chair in the Stroke Institute, as well as contributions to many other important programs at the University.

Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg said, "I first met J. in the spring of 1995. Within a matter of weeks, he had asked me to serve as Interim Chancellor. I was elected to that position in June 1995 at the same meeting at which Mr. Connolly was elected Chairperson. Over the course of the many years we worked together, I came to know him well as a leader, as a mentor, as a partner, and as a friend. I had enormous respect for him as a person and as a professional. His contributions to the University's progress have taken many forms and are immeasurable. He will be greatly missed by me and his many friends and colleagues at the University."

Visitation will be held from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 21 at Simons Funeral Home, 7720 Perry Highway, Pittsburgh. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 22 at St. James Catholic Church, 72 Linden Place, Sewickley. Memorial contributions may be made to the UPMC Stroke Institute, 3471 Fifth Ave., Suite 810, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

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