New UVA Darden Health Care Initiative to Develop Responsible Business Leaders for Industry’s Future

By Julie Daum

Inaugural conference with Darden, Law and the Miller Center to convene industry leaders on the Affordable Care Act’s 10th anniversary

Health care is the largest sector in the U.S. economy, and a top destination for students at the University of Virginia and the UVA Darden School of Business. The industry’s outcomes impact every stakeholder across business and society in America.

Darden has a distinct view of management in this ever-important industry: The School aims to educate leaders that create value for all stakeholders both as general managers and healthcare experts and to catalyze positive impacts for all facets of the health care business and the society it serves.

Today, the Darden School announces the launch of the Darden Health Care Initiative within the School’s renowned Institute for Business in Society — built on the foundational idea of stakeholder theory pioneered by Darden Professor Ed Freeman and the Darden faculty. The Health Care Initiative will be led by Darden Assistant Professor Christoph Herpfer and Lecturer Marc Ruggiano and will include a dozen participating Darden faculty, a wealth of alumni experts and supporters, and Darden students and student clubs.

Why the Initiative Matters

“The Darden School is a leading provider of transformational learning experiences that inspire and develop responsible leaders,” said Darden Dean Scott Beardsley. “As the health care industry evolves and incorporates new technologies such as artificial intelligence, it urgently requires responsible leaders at the helm.”

The initiative will support the development of those leaders through Darden’s degree and non-degree programs — all taught by the School’s No. 1-ranked faculty who are behind this initiative. They include, among others: Professors of Practice Vivian Riefberg and Dr. Paul Matherne and Associate Professors Gabe Adams and Lili Powell, who holds a joint appointment at the UVA School of Nursing.

Darden is committed to growing its expertise in health care. In 2024, two new courses were added  to the expanding set of Full-Time MBA specialized health care course offerings. Health care also features strongly in Darden’s renowned general management education, with over 300 health cases and technical notes that will soon form part of a Health Care Collection within Darden Business Publishing and are already used across the MBA curriculum — in courses on Operations, Ethics, Finance, Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Marketing.

UVA Affordable Care Act Conference

One of the first events the Initiative is helping organize is an invitation-only conference to examine the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), one of the biggest health care reforms in U.S. history. The conference is taking place March 18-19 at UVA Darden DC Metro in Rosslyn, Virginia. Jointly organized by Darden, the UVA School of Law, the UVA Miller Center for Public Affairs and supported by all three groups and the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, the event brings together health care leaders to reflect on the passage of the Act in 2010, its subsequent implementation in 2014 to the present, and where health reform may go in the future.

“This conference was designed to look at the ACA from different vantage points — management, law, policy and history — and to bring integrative thinking to reform that required massive public-private collaboration and integration,” said Darden Professor of Practice and Miller Center Senior Fellow Vivian Riefberg.

“The conference is also designed to determine lessons learned not only for health care but for other areas of major change in policy and operations,” said UVA Professor of Law Mimi Riley, the Dorothy Danforth Compton Professor at the Miller Center. “It is why our cross-Grounds collaboration in planning and implementing the conference was so important. We expect the synthesized lessons we will share in the future will be valuable for policy makers, regulators, business leaders and historians across several arenas.”

UVA Health Care Ecosystem

The Darden Health Care Initiative extends UVA’s robust and award-winning health care ecosystem. UVA Health is ranked No. 1 for health care in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Darden collaborates closely with the Miller Center as well as both UVA Health and the UVA Schools of Medicine and Nursing — including through MBA student immersions within UVA Health and a program called “The Business of Medicine” offered at Darden for students of the School of Medicine. Darden also participates in the Charlottesville health ecosystem, working with such organizations as Cville Biohub.

Within the Darden MBA program, two student organizations, Health Care Club at Darden and Executive Health Care Alliance, bring together students who are passionate about health care for networking and educational opportunities.

The initiative will also coordinate and disseminate the thought leadership generated by the health care business research conducted by Darden’s faculty across all areas of management.

“Through the new Darden Health Care Initiative, we’re excited to prepare students for health care leadership, to pool resources and encourage collaboration across UVA and beyond, and to generate new knowledge and insights to influence positive health outcomes,” Ruggiano said.

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
University of Virginia