50 for 50: Incoming UVA Darden Full-Time MBA Student Adds to Long History of US Navy Collaboration
By David Hendrick
When Dennen Miner (Class of 2025) takes his place among his University of Virginia Darden School of Business classmates this August as a First-Year student, it will be a return engagement for the U.S. Navy Officer.
Miner, who currently heads up all food, retail, hotel and financial services for the 5,000 crew members aboard the USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier, was previously selected to take Darden’s U.S. Navy Insights into Industry Management course while working as a Navy acquisition contracting officer as part of the Tomahawk missile program in Tucson, Arizona. The program, offered by Darden Executive Education and Lifelong Learning in partnership with the U.S. Navy, brings promising Navy personnel into the Darden classroom for a concentrated business curriculum over a three-week span, offering a “holistic experience of the private sector,” according to Miner.
During the 50 years Darden and the Navy have partnered on the U.S. Navy Insights Into Industry Management course, more than 3,000 participants have taken the program on Darden Grounds.
“The insights program is a really good introduction to what Darden is all about,” said Miner. “I really enjoyed the case method and the level of engagement. Each professor made the classes as rewarding as possible.”
So, when Miner was subsequently tapped for a coveted spot in the Navy’s Supply Corps’ Civilian Institutions 810 program, which allows for a fully funded MBA at a top domestic program, Darden was the obvious choice.
“I went to Virginia-Wesleyan as an undergraduate and then William and Mary for law school, and UVA was a School I always wanted to be involved with, but was never sure how,” said Miner. “This was a perfect opportunity to finally be a part of that community.”
While only a handful of officers are selected for the 810 program each year, Darden has drawn a considerable number over the years, with Miner representing the 50th MBA to matriculate at Darden — on the 50th year of the Navy’s partnership with Darden, coincidentally.
“I was not tracking that at all, but [Darden Managing Director of Client Solutions] Jennifer Hicks told me,” said Miner. “I didn’t realize I’d made some interesting milestone, but it’s great to be part of a longstanding tradition.”
In addition to the Executive Education programs, Miner was welcomed to the Darden community through the Darden Military Association, whose leaders helped him imagine the military experience at Darden and potential paths in the future after his military career ends. Miner said Hicks, too, helped show a clear pathway from the Navy Insights course to the Darden Full-Time MBA.
“I couldn’t think of somebody who’s been more integral in making my experience as good as it’s been so far than Ms. Hicks,” said Miner. “She has been a lynchpin in terms of getting me in touch with other naval officers who came through Darden and ensuring my application was set up correctly.”
Upon graduation from the program, Miner will return to the Navy full-time, with the 810 program likely paving the way toward a more senior position. Miner is currently scheduled to be promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander on 1 September, shortly after he arrives at Darden.
While many incoming students in the class of 2025 are beginning to wind down pre-Darden careers in anticipation of a late summer start, Miner will be spending the months leading up to Darden aboard the USS Truman, “putting every ounce of effort” into getting the ship, where his father also served during a 27-year career, ready for his successor. That’s no small task for a supply officer whose responsibilities include ensuring the carrier has everything it may need to provide 19,000 meals a day, that all three convenience stores are sufficiently stocked and that financial operations for thousands of sailors are managed.
“There’s a wide-ranging opportunity to make a difference here,” said Miner “It’s a fairly large organization with strategic national mission sets.”
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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