UVA Darden Welcomes Record-Breaking Class of 2020
By Dave Hendrick
The University of Virginia Darden School of Virginia community formally welcomed the Class of 2020 on 20 August as a talented group of 335 First Year students began their two-year journey through the world’s best MBA education experience at a morning ceremony in Abbott Auditorium.
Welcoming the new class after UVA mascot Cav Man pumped up the crowd to the hype song Zombie Nation, Dean Scott Beardsley said the Darden community planned to do everything in its power to ensure the new students reached their full potential during their time at Darden.
“Together, we will work to ensure that you get exactly what you want out of this 21 months — which will fly by — so that you are prepared for a lifetime of meaningful work,” Beardsley said.
The dean, now in his fourth year as head of the Darden School, said he hoped students ultimately took away four key items from their time at Darden:
- A great education
- Career advancement
- A great network
- A great time
Throughout the course of their time at Darden and in Charlottesville, Beardsley encouraged the students to be open to new experience and perspectives.
“Our goal is prepare you, the future leaders of this world, the Class of 2020, to lead in the complicated context we face in the world,” Beardsley said.
The Class of 2020 will be the first to take advantage of the Batten Foundation Darden Worldwide Scholarships, which will enable each student to have a global learning experience at no additional cost.
Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Development and the Full-Time MBA Program Tom Steenburgh said the upcoming journey would include lessons about business, new skills and experiences, all leading to a “mindset for lifelong learning.”
“You have joined an amazing family and that family is going to be with you for the rest of your career,” Steenburgh said. “It’s important for you to know that you have a group of people here dedicated to making sure you have an awesome experience.”
Class Sets New Records
Executive Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Dawna Clarke shared various highlights and superlatives of the new full-time MBA class, which included a record high for average GMAT score of 717 — four points higher than the previous record holders, the Class of 2019. The incoming students are a highly diverse group, with 38 percent women, 29 percent international students hailing from 36 countries and 18 percent domestic minority students.
The class includes both a record number of company founders and a record 27 students pursuing dual degrees. With 14 students, the number of MBA/Master of Science in data science candidates doubled in the program’s second year.
Six percent of the class served in the military, with 17 students still serving active duty.
Darden’s Executive MBA (EMBA) Class of 2020 began its MBA experience on 11 August, coming together in Charlottesville for its first weeklong residency. The first week culminated in a case competition involving Darden strategy, with top teams presenting to members of Darden’s enterprise team at week’s end.
Beardsley welcomed the record 137 EMBA students at the University of Virginia’s Rotunda, an event that sought, in part, to make explicit the executive students’ connection to UVA. Of the 137 EMBA students, 75 chose the Rosslyn cohort and 62 will be based in Charlottesville. While all EMBA students take a global residency, 34 members of the Class of 2020 chose the more globally intensive Global Executive MBA format.
The EMBA students have an average of nearly 11 years work experience and 29 percent have a military background.
Both the Class of 2019 and the Class of 2020 EMBA students will pilot new curriculum enhancements, with specific courses focused on topics including health care, talent, artificial intelligence and public-private partnerships, among other topics.
Second Years Return Ready to Take Leadership Roles
Welcoming the full-time MBA Class of 2019 back to Grounds in PepsiCo Forum, Beardsley and Steenburgh encouraged the Second Year students to take full advantage of the opportunities available to them in the Second Year, which includes significant flexibility in courses and the prospect of leadership roles in clubs and organizations.
Beardsley noted the various ways the School has responded to feedback from the previous year’s class, and noted significant enhancements to dining options coming to the School this fall and enhanced global course offerings.
Beardsley noted additional areas in which the School has been on the move in recent months, including the opening of the UVA Darden Sands Family Grounds in Rosslyn, Virginia — with a ribbon cutting scheduled for 12 September — and the recently announced record-setting year for philanthropy, which will enable the School to strengthen faculty recruiting and retention and boost student scholarship offers.
One additional enhancement for Second Year students came from Career Development Center Director Jeff McNish, who described how career advisers were now organized by industry, making them more responsive to student needs.
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.
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia