In Memoriam: Paul Canning, Associate Professor of History

Paul Canning, a professor of history at UConn Hartford for 35 years, is remembered by his colleagues in this memorial tribute. 

A candle burning.

Editor’s note: Paul Canning ’71 MA, associate professor of history, passed away yesterday. Born in 1947, Canning grew up in Spokane, Washington. He earned an MA in history at UConn before earning his Ph.D. in history at the University of Washington in 1976. A celebration of his life will be held this summer in Spokane. Canning’s colleagues pay tribute to him in this article.  

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Paul Canning ’71 MA, associate professor of history at UConn Hartford. He spent the last week in hospice with his partner and children. 

A specialist in Irish and British history, Canning was the author of several articles and British Policy Towards Ireland, 1921-1941, an insightful study of the aftermath of the independence of the Republic of Ireland.  

After teaching at Gonzaga University in Washington and Marymount University in Virginia, he returned to UConn as a faculty member in the fall of 1985, and taught for 35 years at UConn Hartford.

A portrait of Paul Canning smiling.
Paul Canning was an associate professor of history at UConn Hartford for 35 years.

[Canning was a] wonderful interlocutor, a careful thinker about the high politics of empire and those who resisted and suffered it, and a deeply committed teacher,” said Brendan Kane, associate professor of history and literatures, cultures, and languages.  

Canning taught a broad range of courses in European history to generations of students. Even during the difficulties of this past year, several students wrote to the department to praise the care and enthusiasm he put into his work with them online. 

“I have worked with Paul for over 20 years and will miss his smile,” Hartford Associate Campus Director Nadine Brennan wrote“He had a nurturing and gentle spirit that drew people to him.  He had a lasting impact on hundreds of students with his teaching and will be missed dearly.”   

“Paul was such a gentle man,” said Professor Walt Woodward.  

“A treasured scholar and teacher, Paul was and always will be a light of kindness and generosity for his colleagues and students,” Hartford Campus Director Mark Overmyer-Velázquez said. 

The UConn History Department mourns the loss of Professor Canning and extends condolences to his partner, Anita Costanzo, his children, and his family. Canning’s family will hold a celebration of his life this summer in Spokane, Washington. Details are forthcoming.