John Colley: Darden Professor Selected to Live on U.Va.'s Historic Lawn

April 18, 2011 — For John Colley, a professor in the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, it has been a year of unexpected accolades.

In 2010, Colley was the first Darden professor to receive the Thomas Jefferson Award – the highest award the University bestows on its faculty. Now, he is preparing to move to the Lawn to live in one of the pavilions at the heart of Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village.

"This has been a truly remarkable year for me," said Colley, who will move into the upper apartment in Pavilion VIII later this month. "I am greatly honored."

The executive committee of the Board of Visitors approved Colley's assignment at its February meeting. It also assigned Pavilion IX to Dorrie K. Fontaine, dean of the School of Nursing.

"It's appropriate that John Colley will reside at the heart of the University," Darden Dean Robert F. Bruner said. "The University is a better place because of him; over the years, he has been a staunch supporter of students, both inside and outside the classroom. He is a professor who creates the unforgettable academic experience for which Darden and the University are so well known."

An expert in corporate governance and strategy as well as operations planning and control, Colley is regarded by Darden students as a mentor and advocate. Students also come to know him through his reading seminars.

About 90 percent of Darden second-year students sign up for at least one section of Colley's "Reading Seminar in Management," which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. "Every quarter, we read books that are critical for students' understanding of business," Colley said, "including my favorite two books of all time: Machiavelli's 'The Prince' and Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War.'"

The "Reading Seminar on Jefferson," which meets at the Colonnade Club on the Lawn, includes a backroom visit to Monticello and a discussion of Pulitzer Prize-winning biographies about the nation's third president and U.Va.'s founder, including two of the six-volume series by Dumas Malone and "Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation," by Joseph J. Ellis.

"The reading seminars emphasize courage, self-reliance and honesty," Colley said. They also share little-known facts about Jefferson. "Did you know that he founded the United States Military Academy at West Point in order to develop more engineers?"

Through the years, Colley, who joined the Darden faculty in 1967, has endeavored to involve Darden students in the greater University community. He works enthusiastically in support of the Honor System, the Raven Society and other University organizations.

When U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan presented Colley with the 2010 Thomas Jefferson Award in November, she said, "For more than 40 years, John Colley has served as the ultimate University citizen."

Starting this month, Colley's influence will be felt even more deeply on the University's Lawn, and he's already planning a special reading seminar for Pavilion VIII.

Said Colley of his latest adventure, "To quote Chaucer from 1370, 'nothing ventured, nothing gained.'"

Media Contact

Beth Schmid

Senior Writer McIntire School of Commerce