UVA Darden Welcomes Class of 2019: New Students Encouraged to ‘Put Your Why to Work’
By Dave Hendrick
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business welcomed 326 First Year full-time MBA students to Grounds on Monday, 21 August — a historically diverse and accomplished group that matched or exceeded a number of high-water marks previously set by the Class of 2018.
Welcoming the Class of 2019, Dean Scott Beardsley described the collective enthusiasm the Darden community felt toward the next generation of Darden students.
Contrasting against the backdrop of the recent violent and racially hostile rally that placed Charlottesville and UVA in international headlines, Beardsley reiterated the core Darden values of diversity, inclusion and respect.
As the community seeks to grow from recent events, Beardsley encouraged the new Darden students to support their peers in meaningful ways in the coming weeks and months.
“I’d ask all of you, no matter where you were born, go out of your way to support your colleagues and get to know each other one level deeper,” Beardsley said.
The School’s collaborative culture will be a key element of preparation for a lifetime of meaningful work, and a pillar of the School’s goal to help each student get the best possible outcome out of their Darden career, Beardsley said.
In addition to gaining the tools for career advancement, access to the world’s most dedicated alumni network and tremendous personal growth, Beardsley urged the students to use their Darden experience to discover their “why,” or their noble purpose, and ultimately to “put your why to work as a path to happiness and ultimate success.
“As you proceed through Darden, look outward, but also look inward,” Beardsley said. “Figure out what you do best. Figure out what makes you happy. And then lean into the Darden support network.”
First Years received an introductory dose of that sustained commitment from the Darden Career Development Center (CDC), which held career kickoff meetings with 100 percent of the Class of 2019 before they set foot on Grounds. Assistant Dean of Career Development Jeff McNish said the class was well prepared to begin their career journey, and said they’d find a strong job market eager for their talents.
McNish’s welcome address kicked off the CDC’s Career Discovery Forum, which allows students to immediately begin exploring the wide range of career options available to them.
Also addressing the Class of 2019, Professor Bob Conroy, associate dean of the full-time MBA program, reiterated the importance of what each individual brought to the classroom every day, describing the varied perspectives as key dishes in the “feast” of the Darden classroom experience.
“We expect you to come to class everyday prepared to excel,” Conroy said. “We fundamentally believe that success is found at the intersection of preparation and opportunity.”
In addition to tying the record for the highest percentage of women in the full-time program and hitting a new peak for GMAT scores, the Class of 2019 features the first group of students to take part in a new dual-degree program with UVA’s Data Science Institute. Seven students in the Class of 2019 will take part in the MBA/Master of Science in Data Science program, which aims to provide robust training and cutting-edge tools for students who plan to pursue a variety of career fields.
Executive MBA Program ‘Thriving’ in New Format
As most of the first year full-time MBA students were arriving on Grounds, the 129 Executive MBA (EMBA) students were wrapping up the first residency of their Darden careers in Charlottesville. The class, which includes 63 students in the Charlottesville-based cohort and 66 in the increasingly popular Rosslyn, Virginia, cohort, began their Darden experiences with an intensive leadership residency on the Darden Grounds.
The EMBA Class of 2019, which includes 24 students pursuing the Global Executive MBA format, is “absolutely thriving” in its current incarnation, according to Senior Associate Dean for Degree Programs Ron Wilcox, who told students at an 18 August welcome event that they were selected from historically deep applicant pools.
Second Years Return Ready to Lead
Welcoming the Class of 2018 back to Grounds after summer internships, Beardsley and Conroy reiterated messages of community and resolve, and Beardsley applauded the class’ impressive track record of pursuing global opportunities. Given record interest in global courses, the School is offering a number of new and expanded global options to meet student demand.
As the new year kicked off, the dean also noted a number of initiatives undertaken in response to student feedback, notably increased resources at the CDC and earlier career contact with First Year students.
Beardsley also noted several facility upgrades around Grounds, including new study areas and furnishings in the South Lounge and major renovations underway at the Camp Library, among other enhancements. The School has also initiated a number of improvements at Café 67 and the Abbott Center Dining Room intended to increase dining options and accessibility of both venues.
As the students take leadership positions throughout the School in the new academic year, Beardsley encouraged them to keep the feedback flowing, and encouraged the students to help the School collectively make the most of its mission in the year ahead.
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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