UVA Darden Dean Scott Beardsley Welcomes Diverse Class of 2017, Including Most Women Ever

28 August 2015

By Dave Hendrick

Abbott Center Auditorium percolated with enthusiasm Monday morning as recently appointed Dean Scott Beardsley offered a warm and lively welcome to a diverse group of First Year residential MBA students at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

Surveying the near-capacity crowd, Beardsley, who arrived at the Darden School at the beginning of August, said addressing the new students was “the moment I’ve been waiting for.”



Welcoming the Class of 2017 to the Darden School, UVA and the larger Charlottesville community, Beardsley said he aspired to be a student-centric dean, and encouraged advice, compliments or criticism.

Through this role, I have the possibility to pursue what I believe to be my ultimate calling in life, which is to help outstanding people achieve their full potential,” Beardsley said. “I cannot think of anything more important than the opportunity to work with amazing faculty, staff, students like you and alumni to shape the next generation of leaders in the world. I think that’s the most important mission you can have. My focus is on you.”

As Darden celebrates 50 years of women in the MBA program, Beardsley will have the opportunity to lead one of the most diverse incoming classes in School history, including more women in each MBA format than ever before. Of the 425 MBA students who make up the Class of 2017 across the residential MBA, MBA for Executives (EMBA) and Global MBA for Executives (GEMBA) formats, 34 percent are women.


The group of 334 First-Year residential MBA students hail from a variety of geographic, ethnic and educational backgrounds and includes the highest number of women ever, according to Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions Sara Neher.

Notable statistics on the residential MBA Class of 2017 include:

  • Percentage of women: 35
  • Percentage born outside the U.S.: 38
  • Percentage of domestic minorities: 17
  • Average age: 27
  • Average GMAT score: 706
  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.5

The residential MBA Class of 2017 includes students from 37 countries and 28 states.

UVA proved the most common undergraduate experience for the residential class, followed by Boston College, Duke University, Davidson College, University of Michigan and University of Notre Dame.

The undergraduate majors of the class also displayed remarkable diversity, encompassing more than 68 different majors and including more scholars of the humanities and social sciences than business.


Addressing the Class of 2016 residential MBA students under a blazing sun Monday afternoon, Beardsley encouraged the newly minted Second Year students to make the most of their last year at the Darden School.

“Focus on the skills you want to build,” Beardsley said, encouraging the students to experiment in new areas and determine and hone strengths that would lead to more successful and happy careers.

Drawing on advice given to him from a mentor, Beardsley encouraged the Class of 2016 to think beyond the immediate, encouraging them to consider the “job after the next job.”


Beardsley also recently welcomed a diverse group of incoming GEMBA and EMBA students to Grounds.

The EMBA class features 62 students from a variety of backgrounds. The group is composed of 27 percent women, 21 percent international students and 34 percent students with military experience.

The GEMBA Class of 2017 is composed of 39 percent women, 39 percent international students and 32 percent students with military experience.

More than one-fifth of the students in both the EMBA and GEMBA programs already hold a master’s or other professional degree.

This year represents the 60th anniversary of the residential MBA at the Darden School. The executive MBA and Global MBA formats, though significantly younger, will continue to be at the core of the Darden School mission, according to Beardsley.


The residential MBA Class of 2017 has the distinction of being the first group to take advantage of the new Darden Before Darden program, the eight-day, pre-matriculation course aimed at incoming students who wish to solidify their foundational business skills and knowledge base.

The program, which welcomed 137 students, offers a low-stakes environment for students to acclimate to the Darden School environment via a series of classes and social opportunities.

Ross Gallardy (Class of 2017) came to the Darden School after four years with the U.S. Marine Corps. The Pittsburgh native credited the Darden Before Darden program with alleviating the anxiety he felt regarding a dramatic change in career direction.

“The exposure to the case method and the use of learning teams was fantastic,” Gallardy said. “It was great to meet so many people with varied backgrounds and have the reassurance that there are plenty of students like myself who are coming to Darden with non-business backgrounds, who are motivated to learn and eager to contribute to the learning environment.”

The First Year residential MBA students also will be the first to experience Darden Academy, a weekly, cross-curricular program that will include opportunities to strengthen foundational skills and engage in learning opportunities on a diverse set of topics. The academy events will be organized in real time, allowing the courses or workshops to be responsive to current world events and the needs of the community at any time.


In every setting to each group of students, Beardsley outlined his vision of Darden achieving the full potential of its mission to improve the world by developing and inspiring responsible leaders and by advancing knowledge.

Achieving that mission will reinforce the global recognition of Darden as a preeminent business school.

Noting the “big potential” that he saw for the School, its students and faculty, Beardsley said Darden was poised to build on its current strong momentum.

“Darden has earned the right to think big,” Beardsley said.

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