Generous Annual Fund Support Powers Immediate Impact for UVA Darden Students and Faculty

By Kristen Keesee

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business announced another banner year for fundraising, with $37.1 million in new commitments.

Darden will also benefit from the transformational gift from David Walentas (MBA ’64) and his late wife, Jane, to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, which created $38 million in impact to Darden through a new Walentas Fellowship Program for first-generation students, additional funding for the existing Darden Jefferson Fellowship Program and a new Jefferson Scholars Foundation Professorship in real estate. Combined with an additional $7.5 million in matching funds from UVA’s Bicentennial Scholars Fund and Bicentennial Professors Fund, the total impact of philanthropy to Darden for the 2020 fiscal year, which ended on 30 June, is $82.6 million.

This year’s success comes on the heels of the October launch of Darden’s most ambitious campaign to date — Powered by Purpose — which supports investments in faculty, thought leadership and curricular innovation; scholarships, financial aid and the student experience; the Darden Grounds master plan, technology and innovation; and the Darden Annual Fund. To date, the School has raised $256.2 million to reach 64 percent of its $400 million goal. The campaign total is supplemented by $52.8 million from UVA’s Bicentennial match funds and the $38 million Walentas gift to bring the total impact of the Powered by Purpose campaign to $347 million.

“Darden maintains strong momentum as it enters the public phase of the Powered by Purpose campaign in support of UVA’s Honor the Future campaign,” said Dean Scott Beardsley. “As we all continue to face unique challenges during these difficult times, I am pleased that our donors are inspired by Darden’s strategic priorities to ensure the School delivers on its mission to inspire responsible leaders through transformational learning experiences. I remain grateful for, and humbled by, the support of the Darden community.”

2020 Fiscal Year Fundraising Highlights

  • $37.1 million in overall new commitments, taking the Powered by Purpose campaign total to $256.2 million of its $400 million goal
  • A record-breaking $6.06 million raised for the Darden Annual Fund to support scholarships; faculty excellence; global impact; diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; and areas of greatest need
  • $38 million in total impact to Darden from the Walentas’ gift to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, which will power new fellowships for first-generation students, a new professorship in real estate and additional funding to the Darden Jefferson Fellowship Program
  • 11 principal gifts of $1 million or more and 31 major gifts of $100,000-plus, for a total of $30.6 million
  • Three new members of the Principal Donors Society, which recognizes donors at the $1 million and above level; four additional donors reached new tiers within the giving society, including Walentas, who is recognized at the Jefferson ($25 million-plus) level
  • 20 new planned gifts recorded, for a total impact of $5.9 million

Darden Annual Fund Creates an Immediate Impact

When the University of Virginia announced dramatic steps in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus, Darden had to pivot its operations, with health and safety as the top priorities. Through gifts to the Darden Annual Fund, the School was able to respond nimbly to:

  • Provide financial support and minimize hardship for students experiencing unexpected living and travel expenses
  • Cover technology costs associated with Darden’s transition to virtual classes and operations
  • Increase financial aid and expand scholarship opportunities for the Class of 2022
  • Support initiatives that promote diversity, equity and inclusion at the School

Despite the cancellation of GivingToHoosDay and postponement of Darden Reunion Weekend, alumni and friends continued to rally behind the School through the annual fund to support students and faculty. Jim Cooper (MBA ’84), Powered by Purpose campaign chair, initiated a challenge this spring to the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees, which generated nearly $400,000 in incremental support for the annual fund from trustees. Six donors supported the annual fund at the Executive Circle level of the Darden Society with gifts of $100,000 or more.

“On behalf of Darden’s faculty, staff and students, I express my sincere gratitude to the donors who have stepped up to power the School in new ways,” said Kara Ramirez Mullins, vice president for advancement. “Their generosity at the onset of the Powered by Purpose campaign and throughout the year has positioned the School to pivot and boldly embrace these unprecedented challenges in its commitment to power the purposeful.”

Contact Interim Vice President for Advancement Samantha Hartog at or +1-434-982-2151 for more information on supporting the Darden School’s Powered by Purpose campaign.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

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.


Press Contact

Sophie Zunz
Director of Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia