Watch: Dean Emeritus Bob Bruner Presents ‘Case Closed’

When Dean Emeritus Robert Bruner arrived at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in 1982, nobody — least of all Bruner himself — could have known it was the beginning of an era. But over the ensuing 41 years, Bruner’s influence was keenly felt both inside and outside the Darden classroom. He became a master of the case method of instruction, using his philosophy of “ask often, tell seldom” not so much to transform students lives directly, but rather to help them transform their own lives.

"You should want the kind of learning that leaves a deep impression, so that when you need it you find it. Case learning achieves that by helping you make your own meaning out of problem situations. Simply absorbing someone else’s meanings doesn’t lock learning in place the way that sorting things out for yourself can accomplish."
Dean Emeritus Bob Bruner

Even as he developed unique expertise in financial crises and bank panics, among other topics, teaching was never far from his heart. And his students knew it. Gently and rigorously, Bruner ushered his charges down the path of engagement and growth, sending them out into the world as better thinkers — and listeners — than when they arrived.

Bob Bruner points

Bruner leads alumni though one final case at Darden Reunion Weekend. Photo: Tom Daly


Bruner embraced the Socratic dialogue at the heart of the case method. Over time, he became Darden’s most prolific case writer, delivering 349 cases and tech notes — and more than a million sales. His book, Socrates’ Muse, helped other teachers master the use of cases in their own classrooms. And he earned the rare distinction of becoming a University Professor at UVA, an honor that gives professors complete freedom to educate in the way they see fit. Most of all, countless Darden students benefited from his commitment to his craft.

Mandy Lozano speaking into a mic

Mandy Lozano (MBA ’09) weighs in during Bruner’s “Case Closed” lecture. Photo: Tom Daly

In 2005, Bruner became Darden’s dean during a time of great transformation for the School. He chartered or led a series of initiatives that prompted the revision of Darden’s Full-Time MBA program, launched Darden’s Executive MBA and Global Executive MBA programs, raised the profile of admitted students, led the hiring of many new faculty and staff, improved the diversity of the Darden community, raised over $165 million in new funds and saw Darden’s rankings rise to the Top 10 of U.S. schools. In 2011, Poets & Quants named him “Dean of the Year.”

Bob Bruner holds his granddaughter

Bruner enjoys a well-deserved standing ovation with his granddaughter. Photo: Tom Daly

Bruner’s official retirement begins at the end of this academic year. And those attending Darden Reunion Weekend enjoyed the chance to see the esteemed professor present one final case. The lecture, entitled “Case Closed,” reminded the Darden community what the Bruner Era was really all about.

The Bruner Case Study

One final honor for Bruner came later that night with the dedication of the Bruner Case Study in The Forum Hotel thanks to a gift from Jim Cooper (MBA ’84). Alumni who recognized Bob’s passion for lifelong learning and love of books joined together to create The Bruner Collection, works either written or recommended by Bruner. They also bound his Top 100 cases in two leather volumes to be included in the collection.

“Books never had a more eloquent advocate than Bob Bruner,” said Dean Scott Beardsley.

Earlier this semester, Darden launched the Robert F. Bruner Fund for Transformational Learning, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at fostering innovation in teaching and preparing future generations of faculty, further solidifying Bruner’s enduring impact on the Darden School community.

Bob Bruner gets handed volumes of his top 100 cases

From left to right, Andy Bugas (MBA ’86) and Dean Scott Beardsley present Bruner and his wife, Bobbie, with two bound volumes of his top 100 cases. Bugas, Byrne Murphy (MBA ’86) and Cathy Friedman (MBA ’86) created the Bruner Collection. Photo: Andrew Shurtleff


To learn more about the Robert F. Bruner Fund for Transformational Learning, please contact Carter Hoerr, senior advisor and campaign director, at +1-434-243-5871 or via email at

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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