An Update on the Spring Semester From UVA Darden Dean Scott Beardsley

23 October 2020

UVA Darden Dean Scott Beardsley on 22 October sent the following message to the Darden community:

I write to make sure you saw today’s UVA Return to Grounds Update from UVA Provost Liz Magill and COO J.J. Davis, below, with important announcements about UVA plans for the spring semester. Since most of their message focuses on decisions for undergraduates, I write to provide additional details as they relate to Darden. In some cases, we are still developing plans based on this latest guidance.

As they note, all students — including Darden students — will have access to a COVID-19 test prior to leaving for Thanksgiving. More details on how to access this testing will come in the near future. There will be pre-testing again for students prior to the start of the spring semester, similar to the protocols this fall.

In all Darden degree formats, we will continue with our planned mix of hybrid and virtual course offerings through the spring. Thank you again to the Darden faculty for your leadership in the transition to virtual and hybrid, to Joanne Meier and the team working to enable this, and to all of the staff who have stepped up to provide virtual course support and other resources.

In the Executive MBA program and MSBA, we will keep our current calendar for the spring semester with no changes. As these populations have different requirements, travel, and are primarily based in Rosslyn, the University is allowing us to maintain the schedule we have planned. Yael Grushka-Cockayne and the team will communicate this detail to these students.

In the full-time MBA, we currently plan to operate according to the current start and end dates for J-term and spring semester with adjustments within the term to eliminate spring break. Tom Steenburgh and the MBA Program Committee will review changes with the team in the coming weeks and provide updates prior to Thanksgiving.

  • J-term for the Second Years will operate as scheduled. All classes in that period are currently scheduled to be all virtual.
  • Our Section J students will start their Darden coursework as planned on January 4, with virtual classes and in-person orientation activity.
  • Jeff McNish and the Career Center will provide an update soon on plans for internship interviews in the January period for our First Years. We are hearing from many employers that they plan to continue with virtual recruiting into the spring.
  • We plan to start spring semester classes as scheduled on Tuesday, January 19.

In terms of spring break, UVA has asked all schools to forgo the traditional, one-week spring break and instead balance having several shorter breaks in the semester when students can rest and recharge. This new decision aligns with the ongoing guidance to avoid non-essential travel during the semester. This is to protect public health and the risks that come with travel and return to Charlottesville in potentially spreading the virus.

The team is actively reviewing the spring calendar and will share more soon about what this will mean for changes to the spring academic schedule; we will try to minimize disruption. We will ensure there are still breaks for students during the term, including between Q3 and Q4. We heard from our students about the strains brought on this semester by going straight into Q2, and we will ensure that we do not repeat that schedule. However, we will not have a full week off per University guidelines. Tom Steenburgh, Marc Johnson and the teams are working on some minimally disruptive changes to the calendar to accomplish this, and we will finalize and share the plans before Thanksgiving. Please reach out to them with any ideas.

As the University leaders noted, we should expect that the spring will continue public health protocols including physical distancing, masking, limits on gatherings and other restrictions. The Safe Return to Grounds Phase 2 committee, led by Rachel Dudzik and Ed Warwick, is evaluating plans for our faculty and staff from January forward. You will hear more from them in the coming weeks.

I also hope you saw the news that the University has added three additional days off for employees at the end of the year, so that we will be closed from December 21 – January 1. I hope that everyone can find time between Thanksgiving and the start of the New Year to recharge after an intense year.

The University is carefully monitoring the progression of the virus, with health and safety as the priorities, and we will continue to keep you informed. Thank you as always for your commitment and support as we navigate these ever-changing and challenging times.

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