Alumnus’ Endowment to Support Chemistry Instrument Acquisitions

September 28, 2023

A new endowment established in memory of James G. Connery ’67Ph.D. will enable current and future generations of St. John’s University students to have the most up-to-date research equipment available for their chemistry and biochemistry research.      

On September 25, undergraduate students taking the class Quantitative Analysis in St. Albert Hall started the day with a ceremony recognizing Dr. Connery’s gift that included the unveiling of a plaque in his honor outside room 359.

Dr. Connery earned his doctorate in chemistry from St. John’s in 1967. He later became Senior Principal Engineer at Honeywell International Inc. and emeritus member of the American Chemical Society. He died on April 25, 2022.

Throughout a prolific career, Mr. Connery received 12 patents and published 10 papers. His legacy to St. John’s will live on with the establishment of the James G. Connery Analytical Instrumentation Endowment that will support the acquisition of a broad spectrum of analytical instruments used by chemists, including microscopes, spectrophotometers, and chromatography equipment. The value of his gift is estimated to be about $500,000, which will be invested as part of the general investment funds of the University. Interest earned will be used to fund the equipment purchases in perpetuity.       

Teresa Delgado, Ph.D., Dean and Professor, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, recalled Dr. Connery’s own words. Dr. Connery, she said, believed “a carpenter without a hammer, a painter without a brush, and a surgeon without a scalpel, no matter how skilled these professionals are, they cannot do their work without the necessary tools for the job.”  

Recognizing the significance of Dr. Connery’s contribution, Dean Delgado added that “through his tremendous generosity, many future chemistry students at St. John’s will be trained on analytical instruments used in laboratories and the industry.”

Joseph M. Serafin, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry, noted Dr. Connery’s dedication to developing instruments essential to chemists and engineers during his professional career and the value such a gift will provide to current and future St. John’s students. “[This is] a transformative gift to [our] department,” Dr. Serafin said.

Student Adam P. Przybylski, a Chemistry major from Kew Gardens, NY, said the availability of essential technology and the funding for chemistry equipment on campus were instrumental in his decision to attend St. John’s. “I’m excited to use new technology,” Adam said. “We’re going to be able to have more precision in our results, which is very important in chemistry.” 

Fellow student Emily Caldwell, a junior Biochemistry major from Los Angeles, CA, appreciated the value the endowment brings to students in her field. “A gift like this opens up a lot of doors and opportunities for research for current students,” she said. “It’s also great to know that this will impact future generations and their research.”

One of Dr. Connery’s patents is for an instrument that provides various electrochemical measurements in Earth-grounded solutions. Students taking the Quantitative Analysis class will be engaging in the same type of measuring exercises.

“Just think about Jim this semester when you’re doing those electrochemical measurements,” Dr. Serafin said to his students.