University News

University of New Haven Community Remembers Former President Larry DeNardis

The campus community gathered recently to celebrate the life of Larry DeNardis, a distinguished educator and former U.S. Congressman, who served as president of the University from 1991 to 2004. He died in August at the age 80.

November 2, 2018

Larry DeNardis
Former University of New Haven President Larry DeNardis, who died in August at the age of 80, was a passionate fan of the Chargers athletics teams.

Debbie Chin, a former associate vice president and director for athletics and recreation, has fond memories of former University of New Haven President Larry DeNardis being a passionate and enthusiastic Chargers football fan. She remembers DeNardis and his wife, Mary Lou, ringing a bell when the Chargers scored a touchdown. Speaking at a recent memorial ceremony on campus celebrating his life, Chin rang a bell as she spoke of DeNardis’ commitment to athletics.

“Larry and Mary Lou came to all of the football games – not only the home games, but the away games as well,” Chin said.

“He helped build the foundation for what I think is one of the greatest strengths of the University of New Haven: How we serve our students.” President Steven Kaplan

One of several speakers to share memories of DeNardis, who died in August at the age of 80, Chin said that DeNardis was committed to gender equity, noting that four women’s sports were added during his tenure. Robert Alvine, a former chair and current emeritus member of the University’s Board of Governors, spoke about his friendship with DeNardis.

“Larry was easily seen as a patriot, honest, knowledgeable, empathic,” Alvine said.

Larry DeNardis
Former President Larry DeNardis

DeNardis served as president of the University from 1991 to 2004. His distinguished career spanned both higher education and government. He began his academic career at Albertus Magnus College and served as president of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, before becoming the fifth president of the University of New Haven.

“He helped build the foundation for what I think is one of the greatest strengths of the University of New Haven: How we serve our students,” said President Steven Kaplan.

A member of the Connecticut State Senate from 1970 to 1979, DeNardis pioneered groundbreaking legislation, including sponsoring the state’s first school-funding formula to equalize funding between school districts. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 1983. He was later appointed by President George Bush to be a member of the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine.

“Larry was easily seen as a patriot, honest, knowledgeable, empathic." Robert Alvine

During the memorial, DeNardis’ friends and former colleagues at the University, including world-renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry C. Lee and Martin O’Connor, professor and University chaplain, recognized DeNardis’ service, reflecting on his many lasting contributions to the University.

The ceremony’s final speaker was Cindy Zhunio ’19, a recipient of the Dr. Lawrence J. and Mary Lou DeNardis Scholarship. She spoke about how the DeNardises’ longstanding commitment to the University personally impacted her.

“Words cannot express how thankful I am to have been awarded this scholarship,” she said. “I felt like I had a huge weight lifted, and I could focus on my studies and pursuing my dreams.”