Meet Rob Weiler: Darden School Foundation’s New President

By David Buie-Moltz

Rob Weiler’s journey back to Charlottesville is a homecoming steeped in nostalgia and forward momentum. Weiler graduated from UVA with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1986 before earning an MBA from UCLA Anderson. He spent more than 15 years in the banking industry — working at firms such as Goldman Sachs and UBS — and then served 16 years at UCLA Anderson, most recently as associate dean of the Full-Time MBA program. Weiler’s return to UVA marks a full-circle moment, accompanied by his wife, Melissa, and their fraternal twin sons, Matt and Jake, both 2021 UVA graduates. This conversation offers a closer look at the new president of the Darden School Foundation — an independent, nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation that supports the Darden School and its academic mission.

Returning to Charlottesville must be quite the journey for you and your family.

Absolutely. I started as an undergraduate student here, then ventured to New York and Los Angeles. But Charlottesville always had a pull on our family. We bought a house in Albemarle County years ago, spent summers and holidays here, and even grabbed UVA men’s basketball season tickets at JPJ early on, knowing we’d return. Eventually, it became clear that Charlottesville was where we belonged. My boys enrolled at UVA in 2017, solidifying our connection. We moved back in April 2021, and while I continued working with UCLA remotely for a bit, the East Coast ultimately called.

How do you plan to bolster the Foundation’s impact on the School and community?

The Foundation’s core mission is to support Darden and its academic mission. This can take many forms, whether operating our top-ranked Executive Education & Lifelong Learning (EELL) programs — which serve as a vital bridge between academic theory and real-world practice — or promoting philanthropic support from alumni, friends and corporations. We also manage endowment funds for the School’s exclusive benefit.

The financial support we offer the School is critical to its success, and unrestricted cash flow is key. Now, when we look at our sources of unrestricted cash, we have our annual fund and endowment, the primary traditional sources. Additionally, we have the newly established Forum Hotel, which holds immense potential as a revenue generator. However, it requires careful nurturing to reach its full potential. The hotel has already proven valuable for EELL. It also attracts the Darden community and the wider UVA and local community. Then there’s the aspect of student housing, which we are exploring and is another asset with significant potential. Dean Beardsley’s long-term vision for Darden is to have these resources become steady sources of funding that provide consistent support for faculty and student excellence in perpetuity.

Undoubtedly, there are numerous moving parts to our work at the Foundation — from EELL to promoting giving to endowment management to ownership of the hotel. With so many operational pieces to the puzzle, we can’t simply prioritize one aspect over another.

What has been your focus these first few months on the job?

My focus has been on understanding all facets of the Foundation’s work, building relationships across the University and helping prioritize where our resources should be directed. Scholarships, for example, are essential in attracting top-tier students in today’s competitive landscape. The competition for talent is fierce, and offering competitive financial aid packages attracts students who align with Darden’s values and culture. When students are fully engaged and committed, it creates a positive cycle of success.

There is a similar virtuous cycle when we support faculty excellence to ensure Darden has the world’s best professors. So, in essence, our mission is crystal clear: we must provide the necessary resources to recruit and retain the best students and faculty, as they are the cornerstone of our success.

How do you plan to engage with, enhance and expand the alumni network?

Engagement has been a priority for me from day one. We need to be strategic, recognizing that each generation of alumni requires a tailored approach. For instance, alumni from different decades may have varying financial experiences, which impacts their perspectives on giving. Many may not fully appreciate the current financial landscape for students. Therefore, it’s important to socialize these changes and emphasize the enduring aspects of the Darden experience, such as our collaborative culture and transformative faculty interactions.

Regarding EELL, it’s intriguing how it operates via the Foundation yet aligns so closely with the School’s academic mission. EELL is a conduit for extending Darden’s expertise beyond traditional MBA programs. Leveraging our faculty’s thought leadership, we can cater to a diverse audience, from corporate executives to military leaders, using a combination of in-person and online formats. This approach enables us to reach a broader demographic and amplify our impact in various sectors.

Engagement and innovation are crucial to sustaining and expanding our network. By adapting to the changing needs of our alumni and leveraging technology to enhance educational offerings, we can continue to uphold Darden’s legacy of excellence in business education.

Since you’re familiar with UVA, are there any spots on Grounds that hold special memories for you?

This intriguing tree — the Yulan magnolia — is right near the Rotunda, along University Avenue. It’s like no other, with its branches seeming to sprout from the ground. It almost looks like it was buried upside down. I remember many nights walking past that tree, sometimes in deep conversation with friends, other times just marveling at its peculiar shape. It’s been a constant presence, sparking serious discussions and moments of sheer awe. It just makes you wonder how it came to be that way.

What’s a hobby or interest outside of work that might surprise people?

I’m passionate about gardening, although my attempts have been mixed. Another interest is my substantial, albeit somewhat disorganized, stamp collection. And, of course, being in Charlottesville allows me easy access to hiking, which I love.

You appeared on a game show once. Would you share more about that experience?

I was on Scrabble, hosted by Chuck Woolery. A friend of mine and I tried out together, and we both made it onto the show. I managed to win my initial rounds and made it to the showdown. I walked away with $1,500 in prize money. Funny enough, that prize money covered a good chunk of my tuition for a quarter at UCLA Anderson.

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

Molly Mitchell
Associate Director of Content Marketing and Social Media
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia