Dean Beardsley Declares State of UVA Darden School Strong

By Dave Hendrick

Delivering his first State of the School address on a busy Saturday morning of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business2016 Reunion Weekend, Dean Scott Beardsley reiterated his belief in the School’s “noble purpose,” saying he remained committed to — and inspired by — its mission to improve the world by developing and inspiring responsible leaders and by advancing knowledge.

Beardsley, who became Darden’s ninth dean in August 2015, suggested Reunion, too, was a reflection of the shared commitment to the School’s mission, and noted the energy and dynamism present when the community came together.

Indeed, the dean said his first year on the job, which included extensive travel to meet and learn from alumni across the globe, left him with four early conclusions about the School:

  • The Darden network, composed of thousands of devoted alumni, is an exceptional, vibrant group.
  • Members of the Darden network have strong opinions, as responsible leaders do.
  • The Darden community believes in the mission to improve the world, and models that behavior.
  • Darden alumni want the best for Darden, and are willing to drive toward an ambitious future.

Beardsley suggested the strength of the Darden network, and its ambition to help build and further a world-class school, would be critical components as the School navigated the difficult terrain ahead.

“Darden is a remarkable place — in many ways more remarkable than I knew,” said Beardsley. “But be aware: the environment in which we operate — the field of graduate management education — is changing rapidly, and we too need to evolve to maintain our status as a preeminent business school.”

Darden is widely considered preeminent in multiple ways, the dean said, noting the numbers of “No. 1s” the School had recently accrued from leading publications, including top spots in business education experience, general management and most satisfied graduates, among others.

The strong showing in various rankings is one reason Darden continues to attract some of the strongest MBA students in the world, and the dean called the Class of 2017 “arguably the strongest and most diverse in our history,” with 35 percent women and 38 percent of students born outside of the U.S. The Class of 2018, too, will be an impressive one. Based on early admissions indicators, Beardsley said he anticipated a record class in terms of “any metric you would like to have.”

Despite the accolades and validation, Beardsley said the School was unable to rest on its laurels if it hopes to maintain its momentum.

The dean described the School’s “bold” move into new critical geography through the launch of the Executive MBA formats in the Washington, D.C., area, which he said would be the first of many moves that would position Darden well in that “global gateway.”

An increased global focus remains a priority for Beardsley, who said the School is already doing much in that area, offering student experiences in 53 location across 26 countries and producing massive open online courses that have reached more than 1 million people.

Beardsley said the School operates in an environment with no shortage of headwinds, however, noting a wave of near-term faculty retirements, increased competition for a flat pool of MBA candidates, and increased digital disruption on all manner of the traditional business School experience.

Promising that the School’s leadership was developing strategies to meet the various near- and long-term challenges, Beardsley cited momentum around new online specializations, growth in the enrollment in Executive Education and new pathways for collaboration with the broader UVA community as the School seeks to preserve its mission while thriving in a competitive landscape.

Beardsley also called on the broader Darden community to continue to assist in helping the School achieve its full potential.

“I thank you very much for your time, your talent, your energy and your financial gifts. Your record-breaking support of Darden’s Annual Fund and our new scholarship challenge is so appreciated,” Beardsley said. “You are also our best brand ambassadors, and I believe that if we pull together and continue to work really hard towards Darden’s noble mission, we will truly make a difference in the world.”

Beardsley’s address was preceded by recognition of the Class of 1966, who became the latest inductees into the Abbott Society by virtue of celebrating their 50th year since graduation, while Philip Knisely (MBA ’78) was honored for his commitment to the Darden School with the prestigious Charles C. Abbott Award.

The 2016 Reunion classes were particularly generous, presenting the School with a check for $5,571,460.

The total complements recent gifts from the Class of 2016, with 100 percent of the MBA for Executives and Global MBA for Executives students participating in a class gift of $164,502, to be used for scholarships. Students in the residential format have also demonstrated their generosity, giving roughly $175,000.

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