University of Rochester

Advancement Awards

Cynthia A. Connolly

’87N (MS)


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Dr. Cynthia A. Connolly is an associate professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, where she is one of four faculty directors at The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research. Additionally, she holds senior fellow posts at Penn within the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing and the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. Dr. Connolly’s scholarly work has focused on analyzing the forces that have shaped children’s health care delivery and family policy in the United States. Her National Library of Medicine-funded research on children and tuberculosis was published in her award-winning book, Saving Sickly Children: The Tuberculosis Preventorium in American Life, 1909–1970.

Dr. Connolly earned her bachelor’s degree in 1980 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. She went on to receive her master’s degree in primary care from the University of Rochester in 1987, returning to Penn to earn her doctorate in 1999. Dr. Connolly stayed on at Penn, completing her post-master’s nurse practitioner program in Pediatric Acute/Chronic Care followed by two years of postdoctoral training at the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health’s History of Public Health and Medicine Program. Her subsequent postdoctoral training at Columbia University included a fellowship in the office of the late United States Senator Paul Wellstone, where she worked on issues related to children’s mental health, and child and family welfare policy. Prior to returning to Penn in 2008, she spent five years on the faculty at the Yale University School of Nursing and the History of Medicine Program at Yale School of Medicine.

In 2013, Dr. Connolly published the monograph Well-Child Care and the Commonwealth Fund’s Child Development and Preventive Care Program, which analyzed the evolution of well-child care in the United States. Her current research traces the development, marketing, and use of pharmaceutical products for children. Supported by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator in Health Policy Research grant and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, her forthcoming book, No Drug Left Behind? Children, Drug Therapy, and Pharmaceutical Policy in the United States 1933-1979, will soon be published by Rutgers University Press. 

A loyal Rochester alumnus, Dr. Connolly has supported the School of Nursing Annual Fund and Future of Care Brick Campaign. Honored widely for her contributions to children’s health policy and nursing education, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2010 and awarded the J. Worth Estes Prize from the American Association for the History of Medicine in 2014. An esteemed Penn faculty member, Dr. Connolly received the 2011 Legacy Award from the School of Nursing Alumni Society and the 2012 Dean’s Award for Exemplary Teaching. In 2015 she was honored with the University of Pennsylvania’s highest teaching award, The Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.Dr. Connolly lives in Merion Station, Pennsylvania.