UVA Darden Sends Class of 2020 Graduates Off With Virtual Celebration

18 May 2020

By Dave Hendrick

After closing out an academic year like no other, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business celebrated 465 new alumni at a virtual graduation celebration on 16 May.

The new graduates include 336 students who completed the School’s full-time MBA program and 128 graduates who completed the Executive MBA, as well as one Ph.D. student.

The virtual Darden ceremony followed on the heels of a University-wide virtual celebration that included special musical guests Dave Matthews and Yo-Yo Ma and remarks from UVA President Jim Ryan.

Addressing the graduates in a prerecorded message from the UVA Lawn, Dean Scott Beardsley thanked the new alumni for their “unprecedented resilience and grace during this generation-defining pandemic” and said he looked forward to the day when he could hand them their diplomas in person.

Like universities across the nation, UVA and the Darden School responded to the coronavirus pandemic by switching to virtual instruction, and Darden students have not been back to Grounds since March.

The coronavirus pandemic reminds us where true value lies, Beardsley said, adding that “without health, we have nothing.”

“The crisis provides everyone with the opportunity to look at the world from the inside out rather than the outside in: What do you value? What really matters?” said Beardsley. “Sometimes, we must be willing to let go of our preconceived notions of life and adapt to the life that will unfold for us.”

Beardsley noted the various ways the Class of 2020 had adapted to embrace their unusual circumstances, from engaging in classroom discussion in Zoom breakout rooms to carrying on with the Darden Cup even in a time of social distancing.

Beardsley said the assembled would continue to be united by the enduring “love and community” of Darden. “The Darden community is lifelong, and we will always be here for you — and you for each other.”

In addition to Beardsley, graduates heard briefly from elected graduation speakers and a variety of well-wishing faculty members.

Said full-time MBA class speaker Morolake Thompson (MBA ’20), “We know the past quarter hasn’t been easy for anyone, but we are so happy with how the community has come together to overcome adversity.”

UVA and Darden are tentatively planning for a full-fledged, in-person graduation program in October, and Executive MBA class speaker Chris Adams (EMBA ’20) said he “cannot wait to be the first fall graduating class at Darden.”

Watch the Darden virtual graduation ceremony — including faculty congratulation videos — and view the 2020 student and faculty award winners.

Watch the UVA Class of 2020 celebration.

Professor Elena Loutskina, an elected faculty marshal, helped kick-off a video of faculty wishing the new graduates well.
Class of 2020 full-time MBA graduation speakers Max Linden and Morolake Thompson introduced a video of staff and faculty reflecting on the graduates' journey.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, shown here, and singer-songwriter Dave Matthews turned in surprise performances for the Class of 2020 during UVA's virtual graduation celebration.
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
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