Remembering Dr. Michael Connolly 1934-2016

Remembering Dr. Michael Connolly 1934-2016

Dr. Michael Connolly, esteemed faculty member and former interim dean of Barry University’s School of Social Work, passed away Aug. 9 at the age of 82. Connolly retired from the School of Social Work in 2002, after teaching in the school for more than 30 years.

Connolly was a highly versatile instructor, and taught courses in PhD, MSW, and BSW programs. His knowledge of social welfare policies and services was considered legendary. He initiated the first course on practice with the aging and taught both practice and policy courses. In the doctoral program, his specialty was philosophy of science, and he chaired 16 doctoral dissertation committees. He was elected university teacher of the year in 1976.

Connolly was born on July 17, 1934, in St. Paul, Minn. His parents, Patrick J. and Nappy Coyne Connolly, were immigrants from Ireland. He graduated from St. Agnes High School in 1952 and magna cum laude from the University of St. Thomas in 1956. Connolly earned his doctorate in social work from the University of Minnesota. He held two master’s degrees — one in social work from Fordham University and in sociology from the New School for Social Research.

He was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and NIMH and VA Traineeships for his graduate studies. During his tenure at Barry, Connolly served in several of the School's administrative positions: acting dean and acting director of the doctoral program; director of the BSW program; co-director of the research center; and coordinator of continuing education. After four years as a faculty member, he helped organize a faculty senate and was twice elected its chairperson. Connolly was originally appointed to teach the community organization course in the MSW program. He was an authority on the well-known community organizer from Chicago, Saul Alinsky, on whom he had written his 1976 doctoral dissertation.

The research was the first on Alinsky's life and career since his death in 1972. In 1974, Connolly was one of the founding directors of the North Miami Foundation for Senior Citizens Services. He served on this board almost continually for the past 40 years. Since 1990, he had been a director on the board of the Miami Institute for Children and Family Health (formerly Children's Psychiatric Center). During his career, Connolly received numerous awards. He was twice named Social Worker of the Year by his professional peers from Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Prior to his employment at Barry University, Connolly was on the faculty of Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. Before his career in academia, he practiced social work in several different settings. Initially, he began as a group worker for four years at Pillsbury Settlement House in Minneapolis. Subsequently, he worked for two years in a residential treatment center for older adolescents with the Community Services Society in New York City. During the following seven years he practiced hospital social work with psychiatric and medical/surgical patients in New Jersey and Minnesota.

Annette M. Connolly, his wife of 44 years, died in February 2004. He was also predeceased by his son Neal and his brother John. He is survived by two brothers, Reverend Patrick, S.J. (Los Angeles) and Thomas (St. Paul); seven children, Mary, Kevin, Christopher, Meaghan (South Florida), Tara (Jacksonville) and Kathleen (San Diego), four grandchildren (Kaitlin, Dallas, Jessica, Sara), and three great-grandchildren (Alexis, Ava Rose, Kade).

Interview with Dr. Connolly