UVA Darden School Alumnus John Strangfeld (MBA ’77) Receives Prestigious Abbott Award

05 May 2015

John R. Strangfeld Jr.(MBA ’77) has received the Charles C. Abbott Award— the highest honor the University of Virginia Darden School of Business bestows alumni. Darden Alumni Association Board of Directors Chair Karen Edwards (MBA ’84) announced the award during the State of the School program on 25 April, part of the 2015 Darden Alumni Reunion.

The award is presented annually to a graduate of the Darden MBA program or The Executive Program for outstanding contributions of time, energy and talent.

Reading from an official citation presented to Strangfeld upon his receipt of the Abbott Award, Edwards said he is “a leader in business personifying Darden’s mission, values and principles through his leadership.” Strangfeld has served 12 years as a member of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees, including two as president. He and his wife, Mary Kay, established the John and Mary Kay Strangfeld Military Scholarship Fund in 2005 to support extraordinary student veterans.

Strangfeld, who serves as chair and CEO of Prudential Financial Inc., said he’s found the Darden mission to develop and inspire responsible leaders and “help them along the journey to realize their full potential” is the most motivating factor in his efforts to support the School.

He focused much of his acceptance speech on his work to recruit military officers to Darden and support them. He helped start the scholarship program 10 years ago with the idea that military officers represent a rich and promising talent base that merits a stand-alone acquisition strategy.

John Strangfeld Abbott Award Winner

“This was a group of people who were particularly well suited [to transition] from successful leadership roles in military life to successful leadership roles in business life through an MBA at Darden,” Strangfeld said. “We have been able to create an ongoing effort to focus on these individuals and to become the primary go-to place for someone in the military seeking to make that transition.”

The military community at Darden has grown strong and Strangfeld said the Darden Military Association is now an “amazingly powerful phenomenon” that helps draw top military talent to the School. Today, Strangfeld said Darden averages 20 to 30 military students per year, while professors often tell him that those students truly enhance the classroom experience.

“When I think of the number of things I’ve done in my life, and that Mary Kay has done with me, this is way near the top of the list of things I’m most proud of in terms of personal involvement.”

At Prudential, Strangfeld also led the creation of a business and technology services center in El Paso, Texas, to offer job opportunities to enlisted military veterans and is seeking ways for Prudential to partner with other corporations to support veterans.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Sophie Zunz
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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia