Athletics Director Emeritus Fran Shields
Fran Shields P’14, who guided the men’s lacrosse program into national prominence and enriched the lives of countless student-athletes, is retiring after 43 years on campus.
In 1980, Shields was hired to coach a fledgling men’s lacrosse program. He would lead the team to a 170-138 record over 23 seasons, earning four Top 20 national rankings and an ECAC New England Division III championship. He was named USILA Division III Coach of the Year in 1993.
Shields assumed the role of Athletics director in 2003, overseeing Conn’s 28 intercollegiate varsity programs and $16 million in facilities improvements. During his tenure, Conn won its first NESCAC team championship and seven individual NCAA championships. Shields also worked to fight homophobia in athletics, educate athletes in violence prevention and support local youth sports initiatives.
Shields is retiring as athletic director emeritus and the inaugural director of the Camel Athletics Network in the Office of Advancement, a position he assumed in 2019.
Vice President Lee Hisle
Lee Hisle, vice president for Information Services and librarian of the College, is retiring after more than 23 years at Conn. As chief information officer, Hisle has significantly advanced the College’s information resources and technology infrastructure during a period of great technological change.
Hisle’s leadership and vision helped transform the Charles E. Shain Library into a 21st-century facility. During his tenure, the College moved to a digital-first environment and implemented countless new systems and he was instrumental in the establishment of the Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives, the Charles Chu Asian Arts Reading Room and the Blue Camel Cafe.
More recently, Hisle and his team worked to keep the College operating through the COVID-19 pandemic, offering infrastructure and training to support hybrid and remote teaching and new information delivery strategies.
Professor Bruce Branchini
Bruce Branchini, the Hans and Ella McCollum ’21 Vahlteich Professor of Chemistry, is retiring after 37 years at Conn.
A prolific researcher, Branchini is a preeminent expert on the biochemistry of bioluminescence, or the emission of light by living organisms. His research teams have developed novel methods for purifying the protein that catalyzes the light-emitting reaction and have used molecular biology methods to produce mutant luciferase proteins with properties desirable for drug screening, mechanistic studies and in vivo imaging, among other applications.
In 2015, Branchini definitively proved exactly how fireflies glow, solving a mystery that had puzzled scientists for decades. In 2011, he was awarded the College’s first patent for an engineered enhanced version of an Italian firefly’s light-emitting protein.
Branchini’s research has been supported by more than $5.7 million in grants, including from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Professor Kathleen McKeon
Professor of Mathematics Kathleen McKeon is retiring after 36 years as a member of Conn’s faculty.
MeKeon specializes in graphical enumeration, combinatorial generation, graph coloring and labeling. She has taught numerous courses in the Mathematics Department, including a ConnCourse, “Abstract Algebra,” and a First-year Seminar, “Cryptography,” and she has led individual studies with student researchers in graph theory.
McKeon’s recent research has included working with graph theorists on a graph rainbow coloring project which involved coloring the edges of a graph so that each pair of vertices is joined by a path in which all edges are assigned different colors.
Throughout her career, McKeon has worked closely with area middle school and high school mathematics teachers to strengthen and broaden the math curriculum. To support that work, she received several grants, including from the State of Connecticut Department Education.