UVA Darden School Foundation Launches Women’s Scholarship Match Program to Support Women@Darden Initiative

By Jay Hodgkins

As the top business schools ramp up their efforts to land the top female students, the University of Virginia Darden School Foundation and generous Darden School of Business alumni are positioning the School as a leading B-school of choice for women.

The Foundation has announced a new women’s scholarship challenge match program, powered by $2.5 million in donations that will serve as gift-matching funds. New commitments of $10,000 or more made to the Foundation to support women’s scholarships will be matched 1:1 until the matching funds run out.

To date, donors have made gifts totaling more than $750,000, leaving about $1.75 million in matching funds to unlock.

The program is a powerful tool to support women at Darden. A gift of $150,000 provides funding for a full-tuition scholarship for two years and unlocks the matching funds to support a second student with a full-tuition scholarship. A $500,000 gift supports three full-tuition scholarships for two years or five partial-tuition scholarships, impact that is then doubled thanks to the match.

Qualifying gifts will be allocated to a current-use fund for women’s scholarships to support the Darden School’s effort to recruit a diverse and academically strong Class of 2024. As many top B-schools seek to achieve enrollment gender parity, Darden’s most recent MBA admits, the Class of 2023, tied a record of 40 percent female students in the Full-Time MBA format and set a new record of 46 percent in the Executive MBA format. The School continues to build on that progress with short- and long-term innovations.

To support the women’s scholarship challenge and unlock matching funds, contact Stephanie Brady at bradys@darden.virginia.edu or +1-207-333-2517

Momentum for Women@Darden

The women’s scholarship challenge is just one part of Darden’s broader Women@Darden initiative, designed to attract top female prospective students, provide support for current female students and facilitate a dynamic network of alumnae.

“Women@Darden is not new. It’s been a positive force empowering students and connecting alumnae for years,” said Professor Yael Grushka-Cockayne, Darden’s senior associate dean for professional degree programs. “However, Professors Carolyn Miles, Vivian Riefberg and a number of other faculty leaders set out to re-energize the Women@Darden initiative this year. Our efforts aim to ensure women from around the world see a place for themselves in the business community in general, and in the Darden community specifically: as a student, learner, or faculty and staff member.”

The Women@Darden initiative delivers positive impact across multiple dimensions by building connections and lasting relationships between Darden Admissions, students, faculty and alumnae. Initiatives include:

  • Attracting more female applicants to all formats of the Darden MBA and supporting their development as leaders while at Darden and after graduation.
  • Innovations in the MBA experience.
  • New scholarships for women from the Foundation, including through the Impact Fellows and Breakthrough Scholars.
  • A new Women@Darden web presence to forge connections between prospective and current students, faculty and alumni.
  • Ongoing thought leadership from the Darden faculty, with insights delivered on the Darden Ideas to Action collection on Women in Business.

A tangible result of the Women@Darden initiative’s impact this year includes the inaugural Women in Leadership Summit, which will take place at UVA Darden DC Metro in the Rosslyn district of Arlington, Virginia, on 23 September. The event will bring together promising female leaders, students, alumni and faculty for a day of leadership development and learning from prominent business, public service and nonprofit leaders. At the summit, Darden will present two new awards:

  • The Women’s Leadership Champion Award, recognizing a successful female leader in the corporate, public or nonprofit sector who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to championing women
  • The Young Alumni Leader Award, recognizing a recent Darden graduate in the corporate, public or nonprofit sector who has demonstrated a commitment to developing, challenging, motivating and supporting women in their careers and lives

Nominations for the awards will be open through 15 May.

At the recent graduation ceremony for the Full-Time MBA Class of 2022, new Darden alumna Natalia Alvarez Diaz received the inaugural Women’s Leadership Trailblazer Award. The new award was presented to Diaz, the outgoing president of the Graduate Women in Business club, for her leadership and numerous contributions to advancing women and gender equity at Darden.

Additionally, Professor Allison Elias will teach the new course “Women, Gender and Work: Leadership Stories and Career Narratives” in the 2022–23 academic year. Elias is the author of the forthcoming book, The Rise of Corporate Feminism: Women in the American Office 1960–1990.

The new women’s scholarship challenge is one of two scholarship donation-matching programs now underway at the Foundation to promote inclusive excellence.

In December 2021, the Foundation launched an innovative matching funds program to support Full-Time MBA scholarships for talented international students, women and under-represented minorities. Under that program, endowment gifts and pledges to the Foundation of at least $500,000 in support of a qualifying scholarship fund will be matched by the Foundation in the amount of 100 percent of the fund’s “spendable draw” for five years. Spendable draw is typically about 5 percent of a fund total, which means a $1.5 million gift or pledge to establish a qualifying endowed fund could yield a roughly $375,000 match from the Foundation.

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.


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