Academic Ceremonies - May Commencement
Honorary Degree Recipient
John William Hennessey Jr.
Doctor of Laws
John William Hennessey, Jr., has been a national leader in higher education for more than four decades. Following thirty years of service to Dartmouth College as professor and dean of the Tuck Business School, Hennessey came to the University of Vermont in 1987as UVM’s first provost and later served as interim president.
Hennessey’s rise in the higher education ranks started at Princeton where he graduated magna cum laude with election to Phi Beta Kappa in 1948, after serving as an Army officer in the Pacific theater during World War II. He earned his MBA, with distinction, from Harvard in 1950 and then his Ph.D. from the University of Washington, where he was an associate professor. He joined the faculty of Dartmouth College in 1957 as a teacher and scholar in organizational behavior and was named associate dean of the Tuck Business School five years later. In 1967, Hennessey was asked to serve as the sixth dean of Tuck. He accepted the offer, but on one condition: that the trustees approve the admission of women to the graduate business school. The first woman matriculated at Tuck the same year Hennessey became dean in 1968. Four years later, the Dartmouth trustees approved the admission of women at the undergraduate level.
During Hennessey’s eight-year deanship, he and his colleagues strengthened the Tuck faculty and the MBA curriculum, expanded the computer sophistication and international reach of the school, enhanced recruitment of minority students, and started the Tuck Executive Program, corporate support of faculty research, and the business school’s alumni magazine. In 1976, Hennessey was named the first Charles Henry Jones Professor of Management and was awarded by the board of trustees one of five Third Century chairs, established at Dartmouth’s bicentennial for innovation in teaching and interdisciplinary work, after which he taught business ethics and co-founded the Institute for the Study of Applied and Professional Ethics. He chaired the board of trustees of the Educational Testing Service (twice), served as president of the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, and was founding chairman of the Council for Opportunity in Graduate Management Education.
In 1987, Hennessey accepted an offer from UVM president Lattie Coor and the board of trustees, of which he was a member, to become the university’s first provost, combining the academic vice president role with responsibility for the UVM budget. He held that position until Coor left for the presidency of Arizona State University in late1989, when Hennessy was named interim president. He worked with the faculty and the university’s many other stakeholders to embellish UVM’s reputation as a “public Ivy,” and he led the resetting of the relationship between the university and the city of Burlington in 1990.
Hennessey returned to Dartmouth a year later and helped found the Institute for Lifelong Education and served for a second time as chair of the board of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, of which he was one of the founding architects in the 1970s. He joined the inaugural board of Kendal at Hanover and chaired it from 1998 to 2001. He has been a trustee of the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont (now Fletcher Allen Healthcare); Vermont Law School, and Goddard College; and he has served as a director of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, Americans for Campaign Reform, and Patient Choices-Vermont, as well as the corporate boards of H. P. Hood, Inc.; Zayre Corporation (now TJX Companies, Inc.); and the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company.
Hennessey is married to former Vermont governor Madeleine M. Kunin, currently a Marsh Scholar at UVM. His first wife, Jean L. Hennessey, the first executive director of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, died in 2004, survived by John and the couple’s two children and three grandchildren.
Last modified March 14 2012 12:19 PM