How Reading The Morning Paper Inspired an Alumnus’ Mission to Shape Ethical Leadership

By David Buie-Moltz

Steve Bachand’s (MBA ’63) mornings often start with The Wall Street Journal. But for some time, the news hasn’t been sitting right. Story after story of ethical lapses in business leadership disheartened him. One day, he decided to do something about it. 

Late last year, Bachand and wife Phyllis — both members of Darden’s Principal Donors Society — made a significant commitment to the University of Virginia. Their $5 million gift, matched by an additional $5 million from the University’s Bicentennial Professors Fund, established the Stephen E. Bachand University Professorship in support of business ethics. Bachand’s aim was clear: to foster ethical leadership and make a lasting impact on future generations of business leaders. 

A Journey of Giving 

Reflecting on his history of giving to Darden, Bachand explains, “Well, initially, my interest wasn’t in ethics. It started with my passion for supporting first-generation college students.” His decision to extend his support from scholarships to faculty support stemmed from his belief in the institution’s ability to shape responsible leaders. 

“Why Darden? Because it’s where I believe I received the most impactful education and career development,” he adds. “More than that, I know Darden is worth the investment. With the case method behind everything Darden does, everyone connected to the School is empowered to tackle big ideas, including issues confronting society.” 

Inspiration from Darden’s Focus on Ethics 

Bachand’s admiration for Darden’s focus on ethics and the influence of Professor Ed Freeman played a significant role in his decision. Freeman’s pioneering work in stakeholder theory has shaped a practical and ethical view of how business and capitalism can benefit all. Bachand recognizes the multiplier effect of a professor’s thought leadership in ethics, envisioning how generations of Darden students, who then become leaders, can benefit from such teachings. 

The Importance of Trust 

Bachand emphasizes the importance of trust in his decision-making process regarding where and how to make a major gift to Darden. “Starting something like this requires faith that it will make a difference, even if we may not see the full impact ourselves,” he remarks. His hope is that his donation will spark positive change. 

Advice for Aspiring Philanthropists 

Asked about advice for those considering gifts to Darden, Bachand stresses the importance of aligning one’s philanthropic efforts with their values and trusting in the School’s ability to effect change. “It depends on what they aim to achieve with their philanthropy,” he begins, highlighting the need for a clear vision and commitment to the cause. 

He encourages others who are reflecting on their own philanthropy to make gifts now so they can enjoy the impact of their generosity. “I wish I had made this gift sooner because I am having so much fun seeing its impact unfold,” he says. 

A Commitment to Lifelong Learning 

Bachand’s thirst for knowledge remains unquenched, as well as his appreciation of Darden’s transformational education experience. “I’m always eager to learn something new,” he shares, and it excites him to know what Darden students are learning today. He says that if given the chance, he would re-enroll at Darden. “I’d likely dive into the world of AI,” he suggests, highlighting his curiosity about emerging fields. 

Bachand is the former president and CEO of Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. He later continued public board service spanning Canadian industries. He has been a loyal donor to the Darden School for more than 50 years and made his first gift in 1972. 

A Legacy of Impact 

Steve Bachand’s commitment to making a difference, both at Darden and in the broader business world, highlights the transformative power of education and the importance of giving back. As he continues to advocate for ethical leadership and lifelong learning, Bachand’s legacy will endure, shaping the future of business for generations to come. 

Discover how to support Faculty Forward, Milestone II of the Powered by Purpose campaign. For tailored guidance, contact Deputy Vice President for Advancement Samantha Hartog at +1-434-981-4025 or 

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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