Freeman and Rosner Named as Thomas Jefferson Award Recipients

Ed Freeman sits at desk; Mitchell Rosner wears a white cote and looks at the camera

R. Edward Freeman and Dr. Mitchell H. Rosner on Friday were presented with Thomas Jefferson Awards, the highest honors given to members of the University of Virginia community. The 2022 recipients were announced at the Board of Visitors meeting.

The awards are presented to honorees who have exemplified the ideals of the University in character, work and influence, and have worked for the University at least 15 years. Freeman was presented the award for excellence in scholarship; Rosner for excellence in service.

The original award, sponsored since 1955 by the McConnell Foundation, recognizes excellence in service to UVA. A second award, established in 2009 by the Alumni Board of Trustees Endowment Fund, recognizes excellence in scholarship.

R. Edward Freeman

Freeman, a University Professor, Olsson Professor of Business Administration and an academic director of the Institute for Business in Society, is the most cited professor at the Darden School of Business, according to Scott Beardsley, Darden dean and Charles C. Abbott Professor of Business Administration. Freeman joined the University faculty in 1987.

Beardsley, in his nominating letter, wrote: “Ed’s monumental contribution to the study of ethics in business and the role of business in society; his trailblazing scholarship in the field of management; his leadership within the academy and to countless Ph.D. students; his role in establishing Darden and the University as a globally recognized leading institution in the study of business ethics; and the impact his ideas have had on business and society make him deserving of the University’s highest honor given to members of the University community.”

Edward Freeman sits at a desk and looks at the camera
R. Edward Freeman is the most cited professor at the Darden School of Business. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)

While a faculty member at the University of Minnesota’s School of Management, Freeman published “Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach,” which presented an alternative view to the thinking of many of the scholars at the time: that the central purpose of business was to create value for all its stakeholders and not just to maximize the value for shareholders.

“This more inclusive approach to business theory was the wellspring for the field of business ethics,” Ian Baucom, executive vice president and provost, said in his remarks to the Board of Visitors. “It is through Ed’s leadership and scholarship that Darden became a top institution in this field. As the earliest proponent of the modern idea that all people have value as stakeholders in business success, he is known as the ‘the father of stakeholder theory.’”

One nominator wrote, “Ed’s scholarship has literally changed the narrative about business in the academy and in the world of business practice. And as companies adopt this more expansive view of management, pioneered in the academy by professor Freeman, their employees and surrounding communities have seen benefits alongside company shareholders. Thanks to his theory, more businesses are being measured by how much value they create for their stakeholders, and more have committed to professor Freeman’s revolutionary theory of business.”

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Freeman has worked with many doctoral students, contributed to institutions such as the Society for Business Ethics and the Business Roundtable Institute. He has been elected a research fellow of the Academy of Management, the leading association for scholars and practitioners interested in organizational behavior, strategic management and social issues in management. He has received the Academy's Distinguished Educator Award and its Distinguished Scholarly Contribution to Management Award. He holds five honorary doctorates from universities around the world.

“His scholarship and teaching have inspired a new generation of students to do work that makes a difference in the world,” Baucom said. 

The citation reads, “With his piercing gaze, surrounded by a silvery mane, Ed moves people with his ideas, his actions, and his humanity. He teaches us that the true measure of a scholar is not in the facts of his or her achievement, but it is in the ideas, ideals and values that bind these facts together into a life story.”

Dr. Mitchell H. Rosner

A graduate of the Harvard University Medical School, Rosner completed his postgraduate training in internal medicine at the University of Virginia, with additional subspecialty fellowship training in nephrology, the study of the kidneys. After a short absence, Rosner returned to UVA where he has served as a physician, educator, scientist and leader.

In 2011, Rosner became chair of the Department of Medicine, the University’s largest department with more than 300 faculty members and annual revenues of more than $100 million. 

“His colleagues credit him with transforming the department into – using the words of two of his nominators – ‘an academically and clinically superb unit that is financially sound and integrated into the larger fabric of the UVA Health System,’” UVA President Jim Ryan told the board. “Mitch is committed to inclusive excellence and has more than doubled the number of underrepresented faculty in the department under his tenure. He is committed to retaining top faculty and has created a supportive and inclusive environment through an emphasis on the success of others.

Mitchell Rosner, in a white coat, holds a clipboard and looks at the camera
Dr. Mitchell H. Rosner has served the University as a physician, educator, scientist and leader. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)

“His colleagues say he has cultivated a culture that values all contributions to the academic mission,” Ryan continued, “and that he has built relationships with honesty and transparency that have brought a welcome spirit of collaboration and trust to the department.”

During the past 11 years, Rosner developed key strategic programs in areas such as oncology, critical care and cardiology. At the same time, he stabilized the department’s finances, growing clinical revenues and extra-mural research support. He has continued his clinical practice and is frequently found in the medical wards or the nephrology clinic, caring for patients.

Rosner served as a scientific and clinical adviser for the University during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a clinical leader within the health system in its preparation and response to the pandemic.

In anticipation of the impending COVID-19 threat, Rosner directed a coordinated effort to complete construction of two floors in the new South Tower of the University Medical Center. These floors were configured into negative-pressure wards to allow safe and appropriate medical care of critically ill patients afflicted with COVID-19 infection. 

“Mitch led the infrastructure changes necessary to care for COVID patients, organized and managed for surge capacity, quickly launched a telehealth initiative, and led the creation of community-based testing and vaccination centers,” Ryan said.  

Former University Provost Elizabeth Magill worked closely with Rosner in shaping the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What he did and how he did it drove the effectiveness of this University’s response to a once-in-a-lifetime challenge,” Magill said in her letter of recommendation. “He is thoughtful, level-headed, good-humored, invaluable, wise, even-keeled, humane and humble. A consummate servant leader.”

“Mitch made himself available during every twist and turn of the pandemic, offering wise and knowledgeable counsel, and often late at night and on weekends,” Ryan said.    

In addition to these major examples of service to the University, Rosner continues to provide direct service to patients as a physician, to provide education to a range of learners, to pursue medical inquiry, among many other areas of service in academic medicine.

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McGregor McCance

Associate Vice President for Communications and Executive Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications