State of UVA Darden ‘Very Strong,’ Beardsley Says During Reunion Weekend
By Dave Hendrick
University of Virginia Darden School of Business Dean Scott Beardsley delivered the annual State of the School address on 28 April, updating Darden alumni on a busy, productive year and outlining an ambitious plan for the future.
Beardsley declared the state of Darden “very strong,” but emphasized the need to continue to push the School forward given the fiercely competitive environment of graduate business education.
Beardsley recounted a number of recent accomplishments demonstrating continued strength at the School, including being named the No. 1 education experience in the world for the seventh year in a row by The Economist, recent admitted MBA classes of unprecedented stature, record salaries with top companies for recent graduates, and a growing faculty that continues to expand and build on its unsurpassed reputation for teaching excellence.
In order to achieve the full potential of the School’s mission to improve the world by developing and inspiring responsible leaders and by advancing knowledge, Beardsley highlighted a series of strategic priorities — largely built around student experience, faculty excellence and infrastructure improvement — intended to build on existing strengths and position the School as one of the best business schools in the world.
“Underneath each of these broad priorities are dozens of action items that we are pushing,” Beardsley said. “This is not a paper tiger. Strategy is about doing things, not just talking about it, and we are doing things. We’re moving.”
On the student front, Beardsley noted multipronged efforts to woo top students from across the globe to Darden. He highlighted recent successful efforts to increase accessibility to Darden by dramatically increasing scholarship funding, as well as the recently announced $30 million program spurred by a gift from the Batten Foundation — matched by the UVA Bicentennial Scholars Fund — that will allow every full-time MBA student to take a Darden Worldwide Course at no incremental cost.
Maintaining excellence in the classroom is also key to the School’s long-term progress. Beardsley said the nine new faculty members hired to join Darden in the coming academic year are both positioning the School for continued excellence and smoothing the generational shift, as esteemed, long-serving professors gradually retire, including Ken Eades, who will retire this year after 30 years at the School.
“We are truly seeing the rise of the next wave of great professors at Darden,” said Beardsley.
Regarding infrastructure, Beardsley celebrated the successful opening of the UVA Darden Sands Family Grounds in the Rosslyn district of Arlington, Virginia, and encouraged alumni to make use of the new facilities, where he said they would “feel right at home.”
The School will also seek to ensure it facilities on UVA’s North Grounds in Charlottesville are at the cutting-edge of graduate business schools, with an ambitious master plan that will expand and reimagine many of the School’s central spaces. The master plan further envisions a new and expanded Inn at Darden and greater connectivity with Darden’s neighbors at the UVA School of Law.
Many of the new priorities will be funded by philanthropy, and Beardsley thanked alumni for helping to spark and sustain record-breaking giving to the School. He also warned that other schools were not standing still.
Beardsley highlighted recent building projects and capital campaigns at peer schools, emphasizing that Darden operated in an extremely competitive environment. The dean looked ahead to a forthcoming capital campaign, which he said would help make the School’s strategic priorities a reality.
The State of the School address serves as a highlight of Darden Reunion Weekend, which began Thursday night with a Principal Donors dinner that celebrated a record number of new donors. The event also included the presentation of the Abbott Award to Dick Mayo (MBA ’68), and featured social and educational events throughout the weekend.
Reunion-year alumni demonstrated support for the School through reunion giving, contributing nearly $8.3 million in new philanthropic commitments.
“I hope you never get tired of hearing ‘thank you,’ because you are one of the best alumni groups any dean could ever hope for,” Beardsley said. “Thank you, really, from the bottom of our hearts.”
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. 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.
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia