[log in to unmask]" alt="" class="" width="289" height="76"> 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, gymamerica.com, 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 assistance).