February 5, 2020*

TO:        University of Vermont Community

FR:        Scott L. Thomas, Dean and Professor

RE:        Professor Declan Connolly

It is with great sadness that I write to share news of the death of our 
colleague and longstanding member of our faculty, Professor Declan 
Connolly. His death appears to have resulted from natural causes while 
he was traveling abroad in France.

Dr. Connolly was a true public scholar whose work related to exercise, 
conditioning, fitness, injury recovery, muscle function, heart rate, 
aging and other aspects of health has implications for a large 
percentage of the population, including professional and college 
athletes across a variety of sports, dancers, recreational athletes and 
military veterans, and the general public.

He had a gift for taking complicated, technical, research-based 
information and sharing it in readily accessible, practical, and often 
entertaining ways. Dr. Connolly’s theory that some athletes were 'too 
fit' in the wrong systems coincided with a critical approach to 
conditioning practices with a focus on injury prevention. His proposal 
that sports drinks needed to be differentiated on the basis of whether 
they were being consumed before, during, or after competition and 
suggestion that chocolate milk would be a great sports drink spawned a 
revolution in recovery sports drinks - most notably the use of cherries 
and other dark berry fruit drink to treat muscle damage – which led to a 
billion-dollar industry.

Dr. Connolly’s skill in bringing his research to life in the classroom 
was evident in the popularity of his courses. He initiated the movement 
to consider sports coaching a profession that required teaching, 
leadership, communication, and organizational education and served as a 
mentor to countless students, including future physical educators and 
coaches, UVM athletes, and students from across the university.

Dr. Connolly regularly translated his findings for non-academic 
audiences subscribing to newspapers, fitness magazines, and websites to 
inform the public about health, conditioning, preventative injury, and 
sports issues; and co-founded one of the first online fitness sites,, then rated the web's best by Forbes. He also maintained 
an active online video presence that resulted in the dissemination of 
his work to competitive, recreational and aspiring athletes interested 
in learning more about the science and benefits of exercise.

Dr. Connolly was a highly sought-out speaker who made 12 keynote 
addresses and 60 invited presentations to educators, coaches, physical 
therapists, youth and college sports organizations, and elite athletes 
in multiple sports. A variety of professional athletic associations and 
teams sought his expertise as a consultant, including the New York 
Rangers, NIKE Elite Running Camps, England Rugby Football Union, the 
U.S. Junior Alpine Skiing Association, the United States Rowing 
Organization, and the New York Jets National Football League.

His research record consists of dozens of peer-reviewed journal 
articles, books and book chapters, as well as nearly 30 peer-reviewed 
published abstracts and conference proceedings in outlets such as 
American Journal of Sports Medicine, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Sports Medicine, and the 
Journal of Drug Education. He garnered almost $1M in external and 
internal funding in support of his research. He published nearly 80 
articles and columns in blogs and popular health journals, including 
Sports Science, International Rowing News, and the Journal of 
Competitive Rowing. His co-authored book Heart Rate Training (2011) has 
sold over 200,000 copies and been translated into seven languages. His 
work has been honored with awards from the New England American College 
of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, 
the American College of Sports Medicine, and a visiting scholar 
appointment at the University of Ulster.

Dr. Connolly arrived at UVM in 1996 and was promoted to full professor 
in 2006. He most recently served as the Program Director of Physical 
Education and Sports Leadership and coordinator of the minors in 
Coaching and Sports Management, and as UVM Men's Head Rugby coach, 
guiding the team to numerous championships and a perennial Top 25 
national ranking. Dr. Connolly was a leader and committee member for 
multiple CESS and UVM committees, including the University Professional 
Standards Committee, the Board of Advisors for VTRIM, and the 
President's Committee on Strategic Health Initiatives. Outside of UVM, 
he served on multiple editorial boards for national and international 
journals, and as a board member and consultant to key organizations 
focused on exercise and health. His colleagues had recently nominated 
him for UVM’s University Scholar Award.

Dr. Connolly's work exemplified what it means to be a publicly engaged 
21st century scholar, and his passion for translating his research into 
consumable knowledge serves as a model for contemporary academic 
scholars at UVM and elsewhere.

Information about campus and/or family services will follow as soon as 
it becomes available.

As is the case when any member of our community passes away, we are 
bound to feel a profound sense of loss, and reactions are felt in a 
variety of ways. If you or someone you know is in need of additional 
support please do not hesitate to contact UVM’s Counseling and 
Psychiatry Services at (802) 656-3340 (for students) or Invest EAP at 
(802) 864-EAPŘ (3270) or toll free at 1-866-660-9533 (for employee