UVA Darden School of Business Announces Faculty Winner of the 2014 Mead Endowment

22 September 2014

University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor Elena Loutskina received a 2014 Mead Endowment award, a financial prize that advances the “dream ideas” of approximately 12 UVA faculty members each year. She received the award this past Saturday at a dinner held in honor of the winners on UVA’s Grounds.

Loutskina, a finance professor, will use the prize funds to transform the stereotype of finance as a cold and emotionless discipline. She wants them to see the academic area as a tool that can be used successfully to create sustainable social change.

“In finance, we teach students to make rational decisions based on the formal data at hand,” Loutskina said. “This year, however, I would like to go beyond these norms. I will lead a finance class that will have an eye on society and will chiefly be student-run.”

She plans to offer a new Special Topics Seminar devoted to impact investing — the fastest growing segment of the private equity market.

Impact investing is the practice of investing in companies that seek to generate both profits and meaningful social change.

“It is a proactive screening approach, as opposed to negative screening, which focuses primarily on avoiding investments,” Loutskina said. “Impact investors actively seek to place capital in businesses and funds that can harness the positive power of enterprise.”


According to Loutskina, the new class grew from student initiative and interest. She looks forward to the shared journey upon which they will embark.

“This will be a risky venture, one in which it is up to us whether it succeeds,” she said. “We will need to work together as a team to bring it to fruition.”

Through a combination of in-class, online and experiential learning, students will learn not only what qualifies as an impact investment, but also gain exposure to the fundamentals of the investment process.

The class will also be an incubator in which students can prepare for the Impact Investing Competition. The competition will be held in March 2015 at Wharton under the umbrella of the “MBA Impact Investing Network & Training” (MIINT) initiative.

The experiential part of the seminar will require students to find a for-profit, impact-investment candidate and develop a pitch to potential investors.


Mead awards go to faculty members whose projects involve students in meaningful ways.

The majority of the learning experiences will be designed and implemented by the students in the course. Each student will take on responsibilities for developing materials for the class. Students will hold each other accountable throughout the year.

Loutskina will provide guidance to her students, and learn from them at the same time.

“I have been at Darden since 2006 and attribute receiving this opportunity to my colleagues and friends, who richly shared their experiences and perspectives on student-centered learning,” said Loutskina. “I have learned that to be a successful teacher, one needs to open up to learning from students.”

The cash prize will help fund student travel to the MIINT Competition.

The John Colley Award funds a Darden faculty member to participate in the university’s Mead Endowment program each year and is named for one of Darden’s most beloved, long-time faculty members. The Mead program is named for Ernest “Boots” Mead, a former UVA music professor known for his engaging demeanor with students. Mead passed away earlier this year.

“The recognition by the Mead Endowment committee is a high honor that I am very proud to receive,” Loutskina said. “A number of my colleagues at Darden are members of the Mead Honored Faculty, and I am very proud to be part of this tradition for the institution.”

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.


Press Contact

Sophie Zunz
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia