Joy Connolly began her service as President of the American Council of Learned Societies on July 1, 2019. A scholar of ancient Roman political thought and literature and their enduring influence in modernity, she came to ACLS after serving as provost and interim president of The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, the principal doctorate-granting institution of the nation’s largest public urban university. Prior to joining CUNY, she was dean for the humanities in the Faculty of Arts and Science and director of the College Core Curriculum at New York University. Joy was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2021.
Since she arrived at ACLS, eight months before the Covid-19 shutdown, Connolly has emphasized support for recent PhDs through programs like the Emerging Voices Fellowship, which she established with the help of ACLS Research University Consortium members, who serve as hosts for the Fellows. She has expanded ACLS activities to include programming for humanist administrators, public humanities, and open books publishing. With the Luce Design Workshop for a New Academy and the Mellon Leadership Institute for a New Academy, she has supported action to advance the adaptation of humanistic values and practices to meet the changing needs of scholars and society.
Connolly’s interest in progressive transformation derives from her scholarship and her past administrative experience. Her current book, tentatively entitled GreeceandRome, advocates for an emergent transregional, transcultural approach to the study of ancient societies. As provost at the CUNY Graduate Center, with support from the Mellon Foundation, she established a major initiative to transform doctoral education, with the aims of orienting graduate research projects toward the public good and enriching students’ career options after completion of the PhD. Committed to hiring diverse faculty and recruiting a diverse student body, she sought to improve students’ experience by increasing staff in student services, offering training in quantitative skills and methods, and establishing best practices in doctoral mentoring. As a divisional dean at NYU, Connolly secured a $2 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to support a collaborative initiative in urban humanities, and helped build NYU’s sibling campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.
Connolly earned an AB in classics from Princeton University in 1991 and a PhD in classical studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. She held professorships at the University of Washington and Stanford University before moving to NYU in 2004.
She is the author of two books, The State of Speech and The Life of Roman Republicanism, and over seventy articles, book reviews, and essays. Her current board and advisory group service includes the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Humanities Alliance, the National Humanities Center, Middlesex School, and the Journal for the History of Ideas. She is a past member of the board of directors of the Society for Classical Studies. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, the Independent, the Village Voice, the Times Literary Supplement, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed. Deeply interested in contemporary art, she served as an interpreter/player for the artist Tino Sehgal and is at work on a creative translation of Vergil’s pastoral poetry. She speaks and writes regularly about the future of the humanities and the necessity of public funding for higher education as a keystone of a robust democracy.