UVA Darden Welcomes Most Diverse Class Ever as Women Reach 39 Percent of New Residential Students

24 August 2016

By Dave Hendrick

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business Class of 2018 is laden with superlatives and firsts, a historically diverse group that is also the first to feature an Executive MBA section based in the Washington, D.C., area.

Welcoming the First Year residential MBA students in a packed Abbott Center Auditorium on 22 August, Dean Scott Beardsley noted the new energy coursing through Grounds.

“We’re so happy that you’re here,” Beardsley said. “We know you are going to go on to great things.”

In separate addresses to the First Year Executive MBA and Full-Time MBA classes, Beardsley told the students that Darden would give them the tools they needed to succeed in the workplace of the future, noting that the skills most in demand by recruiters and employers — including teamwork and collaboration, problem-solving skills, leadership and management acumen, and critical thinking — were precisely the skills emphasized in the Darden curriculum.

“Today’s companies and institutions need agile, global leaders who are capable of understanding and navigating through change,” Beardsley said. “You are about to become one of those agile, global leaders.”

Residential First Year Class Sets New Records

There are 345 residential MBA students in the Class of 2018.

Concerted efforts to attract more women students to Darden bore fruit, as 39 percent women in the class represents a new record, topping the Class of 2017’s 35 percent mark. Darden welcomed a record number of minority students, too.

“All of this makes you the most diverse class Darden has ever had in its history,” Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions Sara Neher said to cheers from the audience.

The incoming class has an average GMAT score of 712, representing another new record high.

Other notable statistics for the Class of 2018 include:

  • Percentage international: 33
  • Percentage of domestic minorities: 20
  • Percentage with military experience 6.1
  • Average age: 27
  • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.5

The students in the Class of 2018 represent 28 states and 36 countries.

Executive MBAs Blaze New Trails

There are 120 students pursuing the Executive MBA formats in the Class of 2018, with 61 opting to be a part of the first-ever section based in Rosslyn, Virginia — just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Of the new class, 27 of the 120 are pursuing the Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) format while the remaining are enrolled in the Executive MBA (EMBA) format.

All EMBA students will experience at least one global residency, while those pursuing the GEMBA format will experience four global residencies, including a new location in South Africa.

Other notable statistics for the Class of 2018 include:

  • Percentage of women: 25
  • Percentage with prior military experience: 30
  • Average work experience: 13 years

“You are our pioneers in a lot of ways,” Darden Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Degree Programs Ron Wilcox said. “It’s the beginning of your journey, and we are beginning a journey with this new design, as well.”

Wilcox, who previously served as associate dean of the EMBA format, is one of many faculty leaders who will be in new leadership roles to start the new school year, including Greg Fairchild as associate dean for Washington D.C., area initiatives and Paul Simko as associate dean for the Executive MBA programs.

Professor Marc Lipson, who welcomed both classes back to Grounds in addresses on 22 August, continues to serve as associate dean of the residential MBA.

Students Return to Enhancements

First Year and Second Year students returned to a School that had undergone some modest but notable changes in recent months — almost all done in response to student feedback.

Beardsley highlighted some of the student-driven changes, including expanded resources from the Career Development Center, a diverse and high-powered group of global leaders coming to speak at the School, new technology in the classrooms, and more expansive and appealing dining options, among other new offerings.

“We want you to know that we listen to you and react,” Beardsley said.

Darden’s emphasis on optimizing the student experience has led The Economist to name the School the No. 1 education experience in the world for five consecutive years.

Beardsley emphatically called on students to participate in a global learning experience before they graduate. For those who have not yet pursued a global offering due to the cost, Beardsley noted a new need-based program that will award full-fee and half-fee grants to students interested in a global business experience or global consulting project.

This need-based financial aid is available to incoming students as well.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia