April 17, 2017
SELINSGROVE—John R. Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc., a Susquehanna University graduate and emeritus member of the university’s Board of Trustees, will deliver the keynote address at Susquehanna’s 159th commencement on Wednesday, May 17, which begins at 1 p.m. in the Garrett Sports Complex Field House.
Approximately 460 students are expected to graduate. Baccalaureate will be held Tuesday, May 16, at 8 p.m. in a tent on Smith Field, followed by a gala celebration in the Charles B. Degenstein Campus Center from 9 to 11:30 p.m.
During the May 17 commencement ceremonies, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees will be bestowed upon Strangfeld as well as Harold C. and Nancy M. O’Connor of State College, Pa. Harold O’Connor joined Susquehanna’s Board of Trustees in 1981, and served as chair from 1986 to 1997. The O’Connors have had a continuing commitment to Susquehanna students and provided outstanding leadership to the university for many years through Harold’s tenure as a trustee.
John R. Strangfeld
Strangfeld joined Susquehanna’s Board of Trustees in 1999, and served as chair for 10 years, until February when he became an emeritus board member. In addition to his board leadership, Strangfeld and his wife, Mary Kay, have provided significant financial support for various Susquehanna programs and projects throughout the years, such as the multi-year funding of coaching salaries for postgraduate athletic interns. The Strangfelds are also major donors for the construction of Susquehanna’s new admission building, due to open this spring.
Strangfeld earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Susquehanna in 1975 and an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
Prudential Financial is a financial services leader with operations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Before being named chairman and CEO in 2008, Strangfeld was vice chairman responsible for Prudential’s U.S. businesses, which include both the investment and insurance divisions. Prior to his position as vice chairman, he held a variety of senior investment positions at Prudential Financial, both within the United States and abroad.
In 2017, Prudential ranked No. 1 in FORTUNE® magazine's listing of the "World's Most Admired Companies®” in the "Insurance: Life and Health” category, and the company has held one of the top three spots in this annual ranking since 2010. In addition to its financial strength, Prudential has a strong reputation in social responsibility, and a longstanding commitment to diversity and workplace inclusion.
Prudential is recognized for its commitment to and robust support of the Newark, N.J. community where the company has been headquartered since its founding in 1875. Prudential is also dedicated to assisting military veterans, and its Office of Veterans Initiatives was developed at Strangfeld’s direction. The company recruits, trains and supports veterans as they enter the civilian workforce, and has broadened its efforts to include military spouses. Numerous corporations have adopted veterans programs modeled after those created at Prudential. Additionally, the Strangfelds established and continue to sponsor an M.B.A. scholarship program at Darden for military officers seeking to transition into leadership roles in civilian life.
Strangfeld serves as a vice chairman of the Geneva Association. He is chair of the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and serves as a member of the Board of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In addition to his Susquehanna board service, Strangfeld was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Darden School Foundation for 12 years.
Harold C. and Nancy M. O’Connor
A graduate of Pennsylvania State University where he majored in physics, Harold is the former president and CEO of Chemcut Corp., a State College-based leading manufacturer of wet processing equipment. He was introduced to Susquehanna by a professional colleague and friend, the late Erle Shobert (Susquehanna Class of 1935), and later joined the Susquehanna Board of Trustees, ultimately serving as its chair for 11 years.
During their 36-year association with Susquehanna University, the O’Connors have dedicated significant time and resources to enhance the educational experience of students. In addition to Harold’s board service, he held numerous other leadership roles. He has been an enthusiastic and effective advocate for the value of a Susquehanna education and was instrumental in helping the university reach its major fundraising goals in its Window of Opportunity and Susquehanna 2000 capital campaigns. Nancy O’Connor has been an engaged partner, supporter and leader, contributing much to Susquehanna as part of “Team O’Connor.”
In 1984, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) named Harold a national Exceptional Achievement winner in its Volunteer of the Year competition.
In 1997, upon his retirement as Susquehanna board chair, Harold and Nancy established the Harold C. and Nancy M. O’Connor Distinguished Achievement Fund at Susquehanna University. The endowed fund provides annual scholarships to outstanding students, chosen as O’Connor Scholars because they demonstrate qualities of “leadership, including academic ability, concern for others and a commitment to service.” The fund also supports the Harold C. and Nancy M. O’Connor Professorship, recognizing distinguished faculty members who excel in teaching and scholarship.
In 2009, a residence hall in the Sassafras Complex was named in honor of the O’Connors in recognition of their significant impact on the university’s growth and development.