John Colley Honored With 2010 Thomas Jefferson Award


John L. Colley Jr., a member of the Darden School of Business faculty for 43 years, received the 2010 Thomas Jefferson Award at the University of Virginia on Friday, November 5. The Jefferson Award is the highest honor the University community bestows upon its faculty. Colley is the 59th recipient of the Jefferson Award, which he received at the Fall Convocation, held in the John Paul Jones Arena.

John ColleyU.Va. President Teresa Sullivan read his award citation: "For more than 40 years, John Colley has served as the ultimate University citizen, not only by challenging thousands of students in the Darden School of Business, but by influencing equal numbers of undergraduate students through his service on many University committees."

The selection committee chose Colley to receive the award for excellence in service, which has been sponsored since 1955 by the McConnell Foundation. Colley, who is the Almand R. Coleman Professor at Darden, joined the U.Va. faculty in 1967, and easily meets the requirement that a faculty member must have served at least 15 years to receive the Thomas Jefferson Award.

Colley's nomination was enthusiastically affirmed by Darden faculty, alumni, students and members of the University community across the Grounds, who recognized him as a teacher, leader, mentor, adviser, University supporter – and all-around nice guy.

"He truly is our present-day 'Mr. Chips,'" Ernest Ern, senior vice president and emeritus University Professor of Environmental Sciences, wrote.

Several Darden students said they sought out Colley's classes. "Each day, Professor Colley meticulously prepares his case, brings his name tent to class and takes a seat in the back row, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to engage with students in discussion," wrote Andrew Crowley, an MBA student in the Class of 2011.

In 1986, Colley started a special reading seminar in management focused on the Jeffersonian era. The seminar was held on the Lawn and included a visit to the library to see notes from the Board of Visitors meeting where the board learned of Jefferson's death.

"Students often mention the Jefferson seminar as being among their favorite courses at Darden, if not their singular favorite, and alumni never fail to recall its setting and lessons," wrote 11 of Colley's Darden colleagues.

Seven Darden classes in five different decades have elected Colley class marshal for graduation.

Among those who nominated Colley were Darden alumni who have gone on to distinguished careers and are frequently invited back as guest speakers in his classes.

"John has on more than one occasion counseled me to have courage when I faced crossroads in my career," wrote William A. Hawkins, chairman and CEO of Medtronic Inc. and a 1982 Darden graduate. "His instincts were always right, and his judgment impartial and insightful."

"Mr. Colley has the University ingrained in him all the way to the deepest parts of his soul," wrote three 2008 Darden alumni, Adam Duggins, Dan Mahoney and Eric McDermott. "He is an active leader at the Raven Society, an avid follower of U.Va. athletics (he has only missed seven home football games in over 40 years), and a mentor to students both at Darden and at the University."

Colley's record of service to the University also includes work with the Honor Committee, Jefferson Scholars Foundation and Athletics Department. He was instrumental in encouraging the Darden School and the Jefferson Scholars to become partners in creating the Darden Jefferson Fellows program. In 2007, Darden and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation established the John L. Colley Jr. Darden Thomas Jefferson Fellowship, recognizing his extraordinary impact on students and the University.

Colley received his Ph.D. in business administration in 1964 from the University of Southern California while working full-time at the Hughes Aircraft Company. He came to U.Va. in 1967 as a professor of business administration and became renowned as an expert in the fields of general management and operations. He wrote or co-wrote 15 books and more than 300 case studies and teaching notes.

He has received many awards for teaching and service from student honorary organizations, including the IMP Society, Raven Society and the Z Society, and from the Alumni Association. In 2006, the Board of Visitors established the John L. Colley Jr. Research Professorship in Business Administration.

The Thomas Jefferson Award was also bestowed upon Dr. Richard L. Guerrant, director of the Center for Global Health whose research focuses on the causes and prevention of childhood diarrhea. Dr. Guerrant was the 60th recipient and was honored with the award for excellence in scholarship, established in 2009 by the Alumni Board of Trustees of the University of Virginia Endowment Fund Inc.

View a video of John Colley receiving the Thomas Jefferson Award.

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