Alumni Fuel Powered by Purpose Campaign to New Heights

By David Buie-Moltz

In a characteristic display of commitment and generosity, University of Virginia Darden School of Business alumni have come together to advance the School’s mission through strong giving in Fiscal Year 2023. With new commitments totaling $33.1 million, the School’s Powered By Purpose campaign surged past its first milestone two years ahead of schedule, with total commitments reaching $406 million as of 30 June.

The campaign’s total impact, including matching funds from UVA and gifts held outside of Darden but for its exclusive benefit, now exceeds half-a-billion dollars. This achievement is a testament to the deep connection between the School and its alumni and their shared vision for its future. An impressive 70 percent of Darden alumni, who have been part of the institution’s journey since its founding in 1955, have participated in the Powered by Purpose campaign.

Darden Dean Scott Beardsley expressed his appreciation.

“Our alumni’s exceptional generosity demonstrates their deep belief in our mission. Their support significantly amplifies our ability to inspire responsible leaders and enrich the transformational learning experiences for which Darden is known,” he said. “We look forward to delivering on the promise of their investments and taking Darden to new heights.”

Darden donors have driven several remarkable achievements over the past year, including:

  • Committing $8.2 million in new planned giving.
  • Setting a new record for major gifts, with 52 exceeding $100k+.
  • 19 donors making their first major gift.
  • Contributing $5.8 million to the Darden Annual Fund, a 2 percent increase from the year before.
  • Raising the alumni giving participation rate to 33 percent, with an 8 percent increase in annual fund donors and a 7 percent increase in all donors.
  • Surpassing the 1,000 donor goal for the Day for Darden 24-hour giving challenge, raising nearly $900k.

The spirit of giving was palpable during Darden’s annual Reunion Weekend in April — marking the completion of the $400 million first campaign milestone, the recent grand opening of The Forum Hotel and the dedication of several donor-supported spaces. The Forum Hotel, officially named the Frank M. Sands Sr. and Marjorie R. Sands Hotel at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning, was brought to life by more than 100 donors, inspired by an extraordinary $20 million gift from the late Frank Sands Sr. (MBA ’63) and his wife, Marjorie Sands, in 2019.

Earlier in the spring, another major milestone was achieved with the dedication of the C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall. The building’s namesake (MBA ’58) — a distinguished educator, administrator and visionary leader — played a foundational role in advancing Darden during its first decades. The renovation of the building was made possible by Frank Sands Sr. (MBA ’63), who spurred the renovation with a $7.2 million matching challenge, and the Red Gates Foundation, created by the estate of the late Hunter Goodwin (MBA ’95), which contributed $5 million towards the project.

The fiscal year ending 30 June also featured recognition of the historic philanthropy from David LaCross (MBA ’78) and Kathy LaCross for their visionary investments that are delivering $50M in impact to Darden, and a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Frank Batten Sr.’s transformative gift that created the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology

Carolyn Miles (MBA ’88), interim president of the Darden School Foundation, commented on the busy spring season, saying, “There’s a buzz in the air at Darden right now, a real sense of excitement, with the opening of the hotel and a great turnout at reunion. Our alumni are really powering this forward momentum with their support.”

Looking ahead to the fall, Darden will recognize six new members of the Principal Donors Society, which honors those who have given more than $1 million lifetime to the School. Darden will also honor four donors who have reached an even greater tier of giving within the Society.

Also, in the fall, the second milestone of the Powered by Purpose campaign, called “Faculty Forward,” is set to launch. Frank M. Sands (MBA ’94), new chair of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees, expressed his anticipation, saying, “We look forward to maintaining momentum. Our focus now shifts to the next milestone, with an emphasis on further supporting and enhancing our world-class faculty.”

Contact Deputy Vice President for Advancement Samantha Hartog at or +1-434-981-4025 for more information on supporting Faculty Forward, the next milestone of the Darden School’s Powered by Purpose campaign.

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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Darden School of Business
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