In Memoriam: UVA Darden Professor Susan Chaplinsky
By Dave Hendrick
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business community is mourning the death of Professor Susan Chaplinsky, who passed away on 28 November.
A professor in the Finance area at Darden, Chaplinsky was a widely cited scholar and much-admired professor, earning awards and recognition for teaching and research throughout her career.
“Susan devoted her life to education,” her obituary reads. “She loved teaching and her students, always generous with her time and interested in their successes.”
Chaplinsky came to Darden in 1994 following successful stints at Northwestern University and the University of Michigan. At the School, she embraced the student-centered approach to learning and fortified a connection to the world of practice — both Darden hallmarks.
The MBA Class of 1996 elected Chaplinsky as a faculty marshal, and in 2007 and 2016 she received the Outstanding Teacher Award at the School, an honor voted on by students. In 2013, she received the All-University Teaching Award from UVA for excellence in the classroom.
Chaplinsky explored a range of topics in the classroom during her career, with popular courses including “Corporate Financing,” “Entrepreneurial Finance and Private Equity” and “Hot Topics in Finance.” Outside of the MBA program, she taught a course on private equity at the University of Virginia School of Law and a variety of Darden Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs.
Chaplinsky was an avid producer of teaching materials, often creating her own teaching materials to ensure a successful course, and dozens of cases and technical notes bear her name.
Writing in 2014, Chaplinsky called teaching her “life’s work and passion,” and said she first and foremost intended for students to acquire “a profound sense that they have grown in their understanding of the subject and their professional capabilities.”
“The benefit is that the knowledge students’ gain prepares them to perform well in their respective careers,” Chaplinsky wrote. “All of my efforts as a teacher are devoted to helping them grow as individuals and begin the important transition from school to future leaders in their businesses and communities.”
Professor Bob Conroy said Chaplinsky was deeply devoted to the classroom, with an overriding commitment to the development of her students. Although she lived with lifelong physical limitations stemming from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and teaching could be physically taxing, the classroom was where she was determined to be and where she found great joy. Even during a recent period of poor health, she was committed to returning to the Darden classroom this spring, he said.
“She cared about people and she cared about her students and she never wanted to be defined by any limitations,” said Conroy. “She was a wonderful person.”
Chaplinsky was a widely recognized scholar in financing and financial structure, with papers on topics such as IPOs from emerging market issuers, what drives delistings from U.S. exchanges and the borrowing costs for international issuers appearing in top journals. Her paper, “Is There a Window of Opportunity for Seasoned Equity Issuance?” has been cited nearly 750 times, according to Google Scholar. More recent work explored the various ripple effects of the Jumpstart Our Business Startup, or Jobs Act.
Chaplinsky said that her research spurred her own continued learning, which helped her bring current trends and insights into the classroom.
Darden Dean Emeritus Bob Bruner, who coauthored peer-reviewed articles and collaborated on multiple field-based cases with Chaplinsky, described her as a “rigorous scholar and wonderful citizen among her colleagues” with an “uncanny instinct for explaining the paradoxes of practice in terms of incentives and expectations that created unusual outcomes.”
As dean, Bruner said he often sought Chaplinsky’s advice on difficult matters and found it “reliably direct and wise.”
“She was a dear friend and colleague to many,” Bruner said.
Remembered by students as someone with a keen interest in their personal development alongside the professional, Chaplinsky viewed her approach to instruction as beyond the scope of Finance.
“In my own life, teaching has become less about expertise in a particular subject and more about living a meaningful life,” Chaplinsky wrote. “My philosophy of teaching is the guiding principle of my life: We should help each other. I believe my students see in my dedication and efforts someone who is deeply committed to their education and growth as individuals.”
An alumni group has formed to honor Chaplinsky’s legacy through philanthropy. To learn more, contact Senior Director of Advancement Whitney Wilson.
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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