UVA Darden Announces Leadership Updates

By Dave Hendrick

Professor Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt to Lead the Full-Time MBA Program

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business has announced a number of key leadership changes and updates at the School, offering both innovation and continuity during a period of great momentum.

Effective 1 July, leadership changes at the School include:

Professor Melissa Thomas-Hunt now serves as senior associate dean for the residential Full-Time MBA Program.

Thomas-Hunt will build on her significant leadership experience at Darden and at other institutions, bringing deep knowledge of Darden and the Full-Time MBA from prior service at the School as senior associate dean and chief global diversity officer, teaching in the Full-Time and Executive MBA programs, and serving as area head for Leadership & Organizational Behavior. Since returning to Darden, Thomas-Hunt has led the School’s initiative on connection and belonging, and led the residential housing task force of the master plan. In 2021, Thomas-Hunt returned to Darden from her executive role as head of global diversity and belonging at Airbnb. As she leads the Full-Time MBA program forward and builds on her work in connection and belonging, Thomas-Hunt will also work as part of the Programs Strategy Committee. Thomas-Hunt succeeds Professor Thomas Steenburgh, who was recently named as the dean of the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management.

Yael Grushka-Cockayne Yael Grushka-Cockayne will serve another term as senior associate dean for professional degree programs and will chair the Programs Strategy Committee. Grushka-Cockayne will also help lead the next phase of the Capital Campaign, “Faculty Forward,” partnering with Darden Dean Scott Beardsley to drive the School toward our next bold campaign milestone and engaging faculty in this critical work. Grushka-Cockayne has created strong innovation and growth in her first term leading the professional degree programs, including the ongoing success of the Executive MBA program, the successful launch of the Part-Time MBA program and collaboration with the UVA McIntire School to enhance the MSBA, among other highlights.

Sankaran “Venkat” VenkataramanVenkat Venkataraman headshot Darden leadership update will serve an additional term as senior associate dean for faculty and research. Venkataraman will further lead faculty development — with support from Thomas-Hunt and Professor Bobby Parmar — following the departure of Professor Mary Margaret Frank, who was named the dean at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School in August.


Christie Julien headshot Darden leadership updateSenior Assistant Dean for Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Christie Julien will serve as interim leader of the Office of Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Darden. Julien, who joined Darden in 2019, assumes the interim leadership role as Professor Martin Davidson, Darden’s senior associate dean and global chief diversity officer and the Johnson & Higgins Professor Business Administration, serves as interim executive director of the University of Virginia’s Contemplative Sciences Center (CSC) for the 2023-24 academic year. Davidson will remain engaged at Darden as a faculty member and plans to return to the School full-time once his work at CSC is complete.

Marc JohnsonMarc Johnson headshot Darden leadership update has assumed the role of senior associate dean for student engagement and chief strategy and innovation officer. This is both a continuation of Johnson’s role and expansion, with strategy and digital efforts now added to his portfolio. As senior associate dean, Johnson will also continue to lead the Darden Student Success Group (DSSG) and the DSSG departments in advancing student success at Darden in partnership with Grushka-Cockayne and Thomas-Hunt.


Mike LenoxProfessor Mike Lenox recently concluded his second term as senior associate dean and chief strategy officer and now serves as special advisor to the dean for strategic initiatives. Lenox, who helped lead great innovation throughout the school over 15 years as associate dean, was recently named senior faculty fellow at the Miller Center where he will help lead their Democracy and Capitalism Initiative as he continues to serve as a faculty member at the Darden School.

See all Darden leadership information.

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.


Press Contact

David Hendrick
Associate Director, Editorial & Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia