Professor Connor received a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Helsinki, Finland, in 1970 and 1973 (English Philology), an M.A. from the University of Florida in 1971 (English Literature), an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1973 (Comparative Literature), and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1978 (Education with specialization in English Linguistics). She joined IUPUI in 1984 after having held academic appointments at Georgetown University and Purdue University. At IUPUI she served as the founding director of IUPUI's academic English as a Second Language Program from 1985 to 1994 and since 1998 has served as the founding director of the Indiana Center for Intercultural Communication in the School of Liberal Arts.
In 80 published articles and book chapters and in four books, Professor Connor's research has played a key role in the establishment of a field of study in second language acquisition called contrastive rhetoric. Contrastive rhetoric examines how first language and culture affect writing in English as a second or foreign language and applies research findings to language teaching and workplace management. With an interdisciplinary approach that includes theories of linguistics, rhetoric, and intercultural communication combined with research methods from discourse analysis, anthropology, business case studies, and linguistic corpora, Professor Connor has defined the field with the now-classic book Contrastive Rhetoric (Cambridge University Press, 1996).
Professor Connor was elected as a member of the oldest and most prestigious scientific society of Finland, Societas Scientiarum Fennica, in 2001. She has been distinguished visiting professor at Åbo Akademi University, Finland (1994, 2000); lecturer in the Distinguished Lecture Series at Temple University Japan (1995, 1996, 1999); visiting researcher at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, 1995; and guest research professor at Lund University, Sweden, 1998, and the University of León, Spain, 2002 and 2003.
Professor Connor has served on editorial boards of major journals in applied linguistics, including TESOL Quarterly, Journal of Second Language Writing, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes. Since 1985 she has received 26 grants, among them research grants from the Exxon Education Foundation, Lilly Endowment, and the Educational Testing Service. Professor Connor has been active in TESOL (the international organization for second and foreign language teachers), including serving as Chair of the Research Interest Section in 1992-1993. For five years she was invited to teach in the TESOL Summer Linguistics Institute.
At IUPUI, Professor Connor has been recognized with the Glenn W. Irwin Experience Excellence Recognition Award, 1992, and Prestigious External Award, PEAR, 2001. She became the Barbara E. and Karl R. Zimmer Chair, the first endowed chair in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, in 2003. In 2011, she was awarded Chancellor's Professor.