Reconnecting Amid Challenging Time Inspires UVA Darden Alumni to Power New Scholarship to Fuel Inclusive Excellence
By Kristen Keesee
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic and protests after the killing of George Floyd last summer, University of Virginia Darden School of Business alumnus Nicholas Stuart (MBA ’05) was inspired to reconnect with some of his Black Darden classmates from the Class of 2005.
“In the days and weeks after [Floyd’s death], several of Darden’s leaders reached out to Black alumni to create a space to discuss the recent events,” said Stuart. “I recognized several classmates and friends from the Class of 2005 on a video call and thought it would be positive to connect with more Class of 2005 Black alumni to see how folks were doing.”
After several discussions with classmates, including Siddiq Bello and Earl Brown, and alumni mentor Carroll Warfield (MBA ’81), Stuart and his classmates set out to establish a scholarship endowment that will support a Black student entering Darden’s Full-Time MBA program. Through Stuart’s personal outreach to classmates, to date, 17 alumni from the Class of 2005 contributed to establish the endowment with the plan to grow it to a full-tuition scholarship through additional support.
“It is my hope that other alumni, not just Black alumni, will see the value in supporting this scholarship fund. We invite you to step up and contribute to a worthy cause,” said Stuart.
“At Darden, we aspire to attract the most talented students from all backgrounds to create an inclusive and diverse community, and I am grateful for Nick and the donors who have stepped up to further this value,” said Dean Scott Beardsley. “Their support is a critical step to further inclusive excellence at Darden and enable its global and diverse members to collaborate and excel.”
“The Darden School Foundation has made fostering inclusive excellence at the Darden School a key initiative, but we can’t do it alone,” said Michael Woodfolk, president of the Foundation. “I am grateful for alumni like Nick Stuart and his classmates in the Class of 2005, who understand the importance of this goal in order for Darden to continue providing the world’s best business education experience and honor someone like Professor Fairchild, who has built a legacy at Darden as a student, alumnus, faculty member, senior administrator and University ambassador.”
Once endowed, the scholarship will be named in honor of Professor Greg Fairchild. Elected by students as a graduation faculty marshal many times and named the 2018 MBA Professor of the Year by Poets & Quants, Stuart said Fairchild has made an impact in part by creating and teaching business cases that highlight entrepreneurial success of Black Americans, such as his case on Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television. Fairchild also leads Darden’s Breakthrough Scholars program, which awards scholarships to under-represented minorities and women seeking careers in private equity and venture capital — career fields that historically lack racial and gender diversity. The new endowment created through Stuart’s leadership could be used to support students selected for the Breakthrough Scholars program.
“This is humbling. Key to Darden’s commitment in the classroom is our relationships outside of them,” said Fairchild, who serves as Darden’s associate dean for Washington, D.C., area initiatives and UVA’s director of Northern Virginia operations. “Personal, student-faculty relationships inform our teaching and enrich our lives. Our ability to bring current, relevant narratives into the classroom ensures we are preparing for the world ahead. These alumni and I hope that these funds enable a continued virtuous cycle.”
As the School looks to strengthen and bolster diversity, equity and inclusion on Grounds, supporting under-represented populations through scholarships is a key part of that commitment through the Darden School Foundation.
“Support from Darden alumni will continue to be critical to actualize the School’s efforts toward a more equitable community,” said Professor Martin Davidson, senior associate dean and global chief diversity officer.
“Setting out to establish a scholarship to support Darden’s Black students in perpetuity has motivated many of the alumni who joined this effort,” Stuart said. “I hope that other alumni will consider how they can come together as a community to make a similar impact.”
To make a gift to support the Professor Gregory B. Fairchild Scholars Fund, click here. Contact Whitney Wilson, director of major gifts, at WilsonW@darden.virginia.edu or +1-434-924-0706 to learn more about supporting this scholarship or establishing a similar effort.
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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