Legacies Defined: UVA Darden Alumni Planned Giving Spurs New Scholarships

By Kristen Keesee

As the University of Virginia Darden School of Business makes great strides in its efforts to be both affordable and accessible to deserving students, donors are paving the way for new scholarships through planned giving. Over the past two years, 11 donors have made planned gifts that will have a combined total impact of more than $7 million in support of student scholarships.

“Scholarships are one of the most effective levers to recruit top talent,” said Dean Scott Beardsley. “I am grateful for these donors who have chosen to leave a legacy that supports the next generation of business leaders forged with Darden values.”

Here, find four stories of how donors are making an impact through planned giving.

New Support for Veterans

When John Strangfeld (MBA ’77) established a scholarship fund for military students at Darden in 2005, his passion was clear: supporting veterans as they transition from the military and into civilian professional careers.

“Our nation’s veterans are particularly well-suited to transition from successful leadership roles in the military to successful leadership roles in the business world,” the former chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial Inc. said. “Darden benefits tremendously from the talent that these high-caliber leaders bring to the classroom.”

Since its establishment, later bolstered by additional gifts from Strangfeld to grow the fund, the scholarship endowment has funded 34 scholarships to military students pursing their MBAs at Darden. A recent planned gift from Strangfeld will ensure that the School has resources to support this vital community for many years to come.

Endowed Scholarship for Women at Darden

As a recipient of the scholarship funded by Strangfeld and a Genovese Fellow during his time at Darden, Gregg Brooks’ (MBA ’09) own experience as a scholarship recipient instilled in him the value of paying it forward. Since that time, Brooks and his wife, Chandra, wanted to pave the way to ensure others deserving of a seat at Darden had the support they needed to make that reality come true.

Their $1.3 million planned gift will establish the Gregg and Chandra Brooks Scholarship Fund and create a new scholarship for women who demonstrate financial need.

“We have both been blessed to have benefited from scholarships and grants to support our undergraduate and graduate educations,” said Brooks. “By setting up our gifts through our estate plans, we can ensure that our work now, powered by our experience at Darden, will support generations of scholars long into the future.”

Backing the Entrepreneurial Spirit

T. Kent Smith (MBA ’84) looks back on his time at Darden fondly, remembering each faculty member who mentored him in and out of the classroom during his two years on Grounds. The affinity that he and his wife, Mary, share for their Darden experience cemented their desire to give back to the School.

The Smiths made a bequest for $1 million to establish the T. Kent and Mary L. Smith Scholarship, which will support students coming to Darden with an interest in entrepreneurship.

“Over the course of my career, it has become clear to me that if you don’t have an entrepreneurial mindset, you’re not going to succeed in a corporation,” said Smith. “I hope that my legacy at Darden will help students who will spur innovation within critical industries.”

Professor Defines His Legacy

For 23 years, Professor Emeritus Robert Spekman dedicated himself to inspiring Darden students in and out of the classroom. But today, Spekman is defining his impact in a new way.

“I am still in touch with students who were part of my first class, and the fact that they remember the material from my first semester at Darden is my legacy,” said Spekman. “Planned giving is another vehicle for me to give back to the School.”

Spekman and his wife, Susan, recently made a planned gift of $250,000 to create the Robert E. Spekman and Susan K. Snyder Scholarship. This new scholarship will provide need-based support to deserving students.

Through these gifts, Gregg and Chandra Brooks, John Strangfeld, Robert Spekman and Susan Snyder, and Kent and Mary Smith have become members of the Cornerstone Society, which recognizes alumni, parents, faculty and friends who have made planned gifts to any school or unit at the University of Virginia.

For more information on making a planned gift, contact Corley Raileanu at RaileanuC@darden.virginia.edu or +1-434-243-4825.

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.


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