University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Remembering John Hennessey, UVM provost in Coor era


Remembering John Hennessey, UVM provost in Coor era

John W. Hennessey, Jr., the University of Vermont’s first provost, died on January 11, 2018 in Shelburne, Vermont. After a distinguished career as a professor and dean in Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, Hennessey joined UVM in 1986 to work with President Lattie Coor’s administration in the new role of provost. In 1989, after Coor left UVM to accept the presidency at Arizona State University, Hennessey served as interim president for the next year.

As a teacher, Hennessey was remembered as a life-changing mentor. He joined the Dartmouth faculty in 1957 and accepted the Tuck School deanship in 1968. Within his first year as dean, women were admitted to Tuck for the first time, and Dartmouth College made the decision to accept undergraduate women three years later. Across the next eight years, Hennessey led numerous innovations and advances in the school.

“John Hennessy played a very significant role in the emergence of UVM as a ‘Public Ivy’ in the years I served as president,” Lattie Coor wrote in an e-mail. “He brought great stature and experienced leadership to the university. He was a friend to all with whom he worked, always thoughtfully attentive to whatever issue was under discussion. UVM was very fortunate to have him as a key player in the university’s evolution.”

President Tom Sullivan said, “UVM and Dartmouth lost a great intellectual leader and friend in John Hennessey. Those who knew John knew him as a person of the highest character, impeccable moral judgement, a deeply caring and engaged, probing person in all of life as well as a role-model and mentor to many. His civility, wise counsel, and gentleness stood out beyond all others.”

In 2006, Hennessey married former Vermont Governor Madeleine May Kunin G’67, currently a UVM James Marsh Professor-At-Large. At the
2008 commencement at Vermont Law School, Hennessey and Kunin were awarded honorary Doctor of Laws degrees. At UVM’s 2012 commencement, Hennessey was awarded an honorary LL.D. degree from the university.

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