Joesph E. Connolly
Joe Connolly was born in Woburn, Mass., outside Boston, and went to Woburn High School, where his father had taught. At Cornell he was President of the Interfraternity Council, a resident advisor and a member of Sigma Chi fraternity and Quill and Dagger. He excelled academically, graduating magna cum laude in 1972 with a double major in Government and History.
It was at Cornell that he nurtured his life-Iong interest in politics and religion, which grew out of his upbringing as an Irish Catholic in Democratic Boston. His undergraduate thesis was entitled, "The Religious Connection: Radical Christianity and the Political Order in America." At Harvard Business School, his thesis was, "Ethnicity and Religion in the Marketplace." His favorite quote was from Gandhi: "Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means."
He loved teaching and education, and briefly considered a career in academia. Instead, he became in international banker, traveling the world and living variously in Antwerp, Brussels, London, New York and Zurich. In the latter part of his banking career, drawing on his expertise in world religions, he played a role in establishing a major Islamic bank in the Middle East. Through this experience, he later joked, he became perhaps'the only Irish Catholic in the world lecturing about Quranic principles in banking.'
Joe's knowledge of Sharia law and frnancing became the basis of the academic career he finally pursued when he left banking in the early 2000s. He taught at the American University of Cairo, the Ecole Nationale des Ponts and Chausees and the Sorbonne in Paris, Richmond American International University in London (where he was also a trustee) and Fordham in NYC. He promoted international education as a commissioner on the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and was on the advisory board of the Scholar Rescue Fund.
Joe Connolly died unexpectedly in 2020. His classmates, fraternity brothers, friends from around the world and his extended family of siblings, nieces and nephews donated funds to endow a Memorial Prize in his honor. The first Joseph E. Connolly memorial prizes were awarded in May, 2022.