$80M Fundraising Year Powers Support for UVA Darden Students and Faculty

By Kristen Keesee

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business announced another transformational year for fundraising, with $80.1 million in new commitments.

Combined with an additional $3.8 million in matching funds from UVA’s Bicentennial Scholars Fund and Bicentennial Professors Fund, the total impact of philanthropy to Darden for the 2021 fiscal year, which ended on 30 June, is $83.9 million.

This year’s success marks one of the best fundraising years in the School’s history, second only to fiscal year 2019. To date, the School has raised $335.4 million to reach 84 percent of the Powered by Purpose campaign’s $400 million goal. The campaign total is supplemented by $54.9 million from UVA’s Bicentennial match funds and $38 million from David Walentas (MBA ’64) in support of Darden through a gift to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, bringing the total impact of the campaign to $428.3 million.

“During a time that has challenged us all, Darden’s donors have powered a transformational year of philanthropy that will benefit students, faculty, staff and alumni for years to come,” said Dean Scott Beardsley. “I remain grateful for the support of the Darden community, whose commitment and generosity have made this incredible impact possible. Although there is still much to do, I am pleased that our donors are inspired by the School’s strategic priorities as we continue to position Darden to be a preeminent institution that shapes the future of graduate business education across the world.”

2021 Fiscal Year Fundraising Highlights

  • $80.1 million in overall new commitments, an increase of 116 percent from the $37.1 million raised in the previous fiscal year
  • $6 million raised for the Darden Annual Fund to support scholarships; faculty excellence; global impact; diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; and areas of greatest need
  • 4,158 alumni supported Darden with a donation in fiscal year 2021
  • 10 principal gifts of $1 million or more and 36 major gifts of $100,000-plus, for a total of $72.4 million
  • Eight new members joined the Principal Donors Society, which recognizes donors at the $1 million and above level; three additional donors reached new tiers within the giving society
  • $10 million in contributions from alumni who celebrated a Darden Reunion
  • 12 planned gifts were documented and four planned gifts were realized this year, for a total impact of $47.5 million

Honoring Darden Faculty

The strong desire among alumni to show appreciation for their favorite professors as they support the School’s future success led Darden to launch Honoring Faculty Legends, an initiative of the Powered by Purpose capital campaign. This year, several donors made gifts to the School in honor of Darden’s master teachers:

  • Airbnb made a $1 million gift in honor of Professor Melissa Thomas-Hunt to establish the Airbnb Melissa Christian Thomas Hunt Research Fund for Global Connection and Belonging at Darden.
  • Bob Hugin (MBA ’85) pledged $1 million, matched by $500,000 from the UVA Bicentennial Scholars Fund, $1.2 million from alumni who met Hugin’s matching challenge and matching funds from UVA, to generate $3.1 million to establish the need-based Professor Willliam W. Sihler Bicentennial Scholars Fund.
  • Hugin also led a challenge that, with the support of Darden alumni, generated $1.6 million to establish the Professor E. Richard Brownlee II Scholarship.

Darden Annual Fund Powers New Resources

This year, alumni and friends rallied to show their love for Darden during the North Grounds Challenge, held in partnership with the UVA School of Law. More than 750 Darden donors raised nearly $229,000 during the three-day challenge, and the Class of 2020 launched its class gift campaign, achieving the highest participation count among all class years.

The Dean’s Diversity Advisory Council also established a match challenge to fuel new resources for the annual fund’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives designation. The two-part challenge engaged 248 donors to raise nearly $300,000 to power efforts identified and prioritized by Darden’s Racial Equity and Inclusion Working Group, which includes a cross-section of school leadership, faculty, staff, students and alumni, to help the School foster an inclusive community that enables its global and diverse members to collaborate and excel.

Darden Grounds Rise

The year also marked a momentous milestone at Darden with the demolition of the former UVA Inn at Darden and Sponsors Hall to make way for the new UVA Inn at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning, arboretum and botanical gardens, and C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall. To date, 120 donors have committed $52.7 million to support this critical priority, which once complete, will generate new streams of revenue for the Darden School Foundation that can then support scholarships and faculty excellence and lift the School’s brand and reputation.

“On behalf of Darden’s students, faculty and staff, thank you to the donors who have stepped up to ensure Darden continues to deliver transformational learning experiences — no matter the circumstance,” said Michael Woodfolk (TEP ’05), president of the Darden School Foundation. “Their generosity positions the School to take hold of any challenge and boldly embrace the opportunities that make the Darden experience unparalleled.”

Contact Interim Vice President for Advancement Samantha Hartog at HartogS@darden.virginia.edu 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 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.


Press Contact

Molly Mitchell
Associate Director of Content Marketing and Social Media
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia