Joy Connolly

  • American Council of Learned Societies
  • President

Joy Connolly began her service as President of the American Council of Learned Societies on July 1, 2019.  Previously, she served as interim president of The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, the principal doctorate-granting institution of the nation’s leading public urban university, a position she held from December 2018 to June 2019. A distinguished professor of classics, she joined the Graduate Center as its provost and senior vice president in August 2016.

During her service as provost and interim president, Connolly doubled the number of master’s programs and established a major new initiative to transform doctoral education, with the aims of orienting graduate research projects toward the public good and enriching students’ options after completion of the degree.  To broaden the Graduate Center’s impact on the world outside the academy, she secured support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to set up a new center called the PublicsLab, and she began work on non-degree programs that increase the faculty’s reach and impact on the public in New York City and beyond.  Committed to hiring diverse faculty and recruiting a diverse student body, she has also initiated an effort to improve students’ experience by increasing staff in student services, offering support in quantitative skills and methods, and establishing best practices in doctoral mentoring.

Connolly designed the Graduate Center’s first comprehensive planning and budget process in Academic Affairs, the Annual Report and Request. She oversaw a major grant from the Mellon Foundation that partners with La Guardia Community College, worked to integrate the Advanced Science Research Center in the administrative and academic operations of the Graduate Center, and piloted a new style of graduate seminar in urban studies.

Connolly earned an AB from Princeton University in 1991 and a PhD in classical studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997.  After professorships at the University of Washington and Stanford University, she moved to New York University in 2004, where she received tenure and became director of the undergraduate core curriculum (2009-2012) and dean for the humanities (2012-2016).  As dean, Connolly hired dozens of faculty, secured a $2 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to support urban humanities, and worked to enhance the relationship between NYU’s New York campus and its sibling campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.

Connolly is the author of two books and over seventy articles, book reviews, and essays. Her board service includes the Journal for the History of Ideas and the board of directors of the Society for Classical Studies.  Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, the Independent, the Village Voice, The Times Literary Supplement, the Chronicle of Higher EducationBookforum, The Nation, and the Women’s Review of Books.  Her interest in the contemporary arts has led her to serve as an interpreter/player for the artist Tino Sehgal and to embark on a translation of Vergil’s pastoral poetry.  She speaks and writes regularly about the future of the humanities and her own discipline, classical studies. Her current book project is a study of the value of Roman writing on selected problems in modern political thought, with a special focus on the work of Hannah Arendt.