Established in 1984, the Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes alumni whose exceptional professional achievements, contributions to their chosen field, and service to the School of Nursing have brought honor to themselves and to the University of Rochester.
Highly esteemed for her pioneering work as a pediatric nurse and educator, Dr. Cynthia Connolly is a national leader who has profoundly influenced children’s health care and public health policy. A proliferative author and historical nurse-scholar, her award-winning book, Saving Sickly Children: The Tuberculosis Preventorium in American Life, 1909–1970, brought to light the disparities in health care delivery for impoverished children with infectious diseases. A forerunner in her field, she elevated her profession by becoming the first nurse to join the faculty at Yale College and the first RN appointed as an assistant professor in the History of Medicine Program at Yale School of Medicine. Widely admired as one of four faculty directors at The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, she continues to focus her research on the forces that shape children’s health care. One of three nurses to receive a prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award, she is currently tracing the history of children and pharmaceuticals. Devoted to her alma mater, she speaks passionately about her education to colleagues and students, crediting Rochester’s spirit of innovation, excellence, and interdisciplinary research with providing a solid foundation for her success. An alumna whose achievements have brought great honor and merit to the School, Dr. Connolly truly exemplifies the core missions of the School: education, practice, and research. We are especially proud to honor her as one of our most distinguished graduates.