Canadian University Honors UVA Darden Professor Freeman with Degree

By Dave Hendrick

For his work to expand and enhance perceptions about the role and purpose of business, the University of Sherbrooke on 24 September presented University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor R. Edward Freeman with an honorary doctorate in management.

In awarding the honorary degree, the Quebec-based university specifically cited Freeman’s work related to stakeholder theory, which posits that a company has responsibilities to multiple key stakeholders — not just shareholders.

The university, which also hosted a convocation address by Freeman, noted that Freeman’s work had played a “revolutionary” role in the field of business education by creating a new way to teach and study the ethics of organizations.

In an address to the students, Freeman posed, “One of the most important questions for you to ask is, ‘What do I stand for’ or ‘What is my raison d’etre’ — my purpose?”

He added, “Discovering your own purpose can be a lifelong pursuit, but having a purpose is one of the most important parts of being fully human.”

Freeman, University Professor and the Elis and Signe Olsson Professor of Business Administration at Darden, is the author or editor of nearly 200 articles and more than 25 volumes in the fields of stakeholder management, ethics and leadership, including Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, which was first published in 1984.

The holder of multiple honorary degrees and teaching awards, Freeman also serves as an academic director of Darden’s Institute for Business in Society and Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics and is a senior fellow at the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics.

As he concluded his speech, Freeman laid out a challenge to the Sherbrooke students. “You have a great project ahead of you. … You can make business and capitalism better,” he said.

“You can make our political institutions even more democratic and open to everyone,” he added. “And, you can create the businesses and nonprofits and NGOs and other organizational forms that let us all flourish.”

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About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. 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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David Hendrick
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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia