Remembering John Hennessey

Tuck Dean Emeritus John W. Hennessey Jr., a respected scholar, teacher, and administrator who advocated for a more diverse student body at the school, passed away on January 11 at the age of 92.

Members of the Tuck community fortunate enough to have known the school’s sixth dean, John W. Hennessey Jr., felt his loss keenly this week. 

Hennessey, who died January 11, 2018 at his home at the Wake Robin Continuing Care Community in Shelburne, Vermont at the age of 92, was an exceptional man whose leadership and integrity helped shape the institution Tuck is today.

“There is simply no way to overstate John’s impact on our institution,” said Dean Matthew J. Slaughter in a message to the community. “John presided over one of the most consequential periods in Tuck’s history, transforming our community and campus and ushering in important changes that helped make Tuck the vibrant school it is today.”

Throughout a lifetime dedicated to higher education and public service, Hennessey embodied the traits and skills that Tuck has made its mission to impart in the students it educates—wisdom encompassing the essential aptitudes of confident humility, empathy towards the diverse ideas and experiences of others, and judgment about when and how to take risks for the better. His many accomplishments testify to this: acceptance at Princeton University at just 16 years of age. Interrupting his studies to attend officer training school and serve in the Army in World War II. Returning to Princeton to finish his degree in economics, then marry social and environmental activist Jean Marie Lande. Earning an MBA from Harvard and a PhD in organizational behavior from the University of Washington. And, in 1957, accepting an appointment to the Tuck School of Business as an instructor of organizational behavior.

There was a feeling that it's time. It's time we have the Civil Rights Act. It's time we create opportunities for people who didn't have them in the past.”
—John Hennessey

Later, during the turbulent 1960s, Hennessey served as an associate dean to Karl Hill, the fifth dean of the Tuck School and a kindred spirit who had set about transforming Tuck from a professional school for Dartmouth men to a modern MBA program with a global reach. Determined to integrate the school, the two devoted much time and effort to visiting the 10 top historically black colleges and recruiting students from them. In 1968, when Hill stepped down as dean, Hennessey agreed to assume the position on the condition that the school begin admitting women—which it did.


“There is simply no way to overstate John’s impact on our institution,” said Dean Matthew J. Slaughter

During his tenure as dean, Hennessey introduced many programs and initiatives that proudly remain at the school today—the Tuck Executive Education program, the Tuck Honor Code, Tuck Annual Giving (TAG), and the school’s alumni magazine, Tuck Today. Outside the Tuck sphere, he was founding chair of the Council on Opportunity in Graduate Management Education, an organization created to help minority students gain access to top MBA programs, and co-founder of the Dartmouth Institute for the Study of Applied and Professional Ethics.

A decade after retiring from Tuck, Hennessey served as provost, and later as interim president, of the University of Vermont. Over the years, he also served on more than 30 nonprofit and corporate boards. But Hennessey always found time for family—he and his wife of 55 years traveled to all 50 of the U.S. states with their grandchildren before Jean passed away in 2004.

Hennessey began a new chapter in his life when he met former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, a former federal deputy secretary of education and ambassador to Switzerland. They married in 2006. Hennessey is survived by Gov. Kunin, his children John and Martha, and their families. He will be greatly missed.