By Dave Hendrick

Newswise — Welcoming a record 900-plus alumni of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business back to Grounds on a picture perfect Reunion Weekend, Dean Scott Beardsley detailed the School’s current position of strength at the annual State of the School address, reciting a list of recent accomplishments and charting a course for the School’s continued growth and development. Beardsley also thanked the assembled crowd for their unwavering dedication to the School, noting the incredible welcome that he routinely receives from Darden alumni around the world.

Beardsley said the state of Darden was strong, with recently admitted classes breaking records on a variety of fronts, new graduates finding top jobs with unprecedented salaries, and faculty members earning recognition as preeminent business education scholars and teachers.

The momentum is reflected in a slew of recent rankings, with the School rising in all four major rankings and moving into the Top 10 globally in two. The Economist named the School the best business education experience in the world for the eighth year in a row, and Darden was ranked No. 1 in the world for corporate social responsibility in a new Financial Times ranking.

“Darden is in a great position with positive momentum and a lot of opportunity ahead,” Beardsley said.

The State of the School address serves as the centerpiece of Reunion Weekend, which includes a variety of events and special programming. This year, highlights included the awarding of the Charles C. Abbott Award — the highest honor bestowed annually on a Darden alumnus — to former Citigroup Chair Mike O’Neill (MBA ’74).

Record-setting Reunion attendance was matched by record Reunion Giving efforts totaling more than $13.9 million.

Looking toward the future, Beardsley said the competitive dynamics of graduate business education are intense, and the School must capitalize on current positive momentum to act on a variety of fronts if it hopes to achieve its mission to improve the world by inspiring responsible leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences.

“I believe that if the School achieves the full potential of its mission, Darden will be one of the preeminent business schools on the planet,” Beardsley said.

The dean detailed competitive pressures in the industry, including peer schools investing through philanthropy to advance key priorities — notably in the areas of innovative education formats, new facilities and increased capacity to offer scholarships.

“While this is daunting in the race for talent and excellence, it is also encouraging. If other schools can secure those kinds of resources to innovate and advance, then I have no doubt that Darden can, too,” Beardsley said.

Carrying the Momentum Into an Unprecedented Campaign

The dean said Darden’s forthcoming capital campaign, Powered by Purpose, in support of the University of Virginia’s $5 billion fundraising campaign would ensure the School’s position for the long term. The campaign will launch publicly in October, and Darden’s four priorities include:

  • Faculty, Thought Leadership and Curricular Innovation
  • Scholarships, Financial Aid and Student Experience
  • Darden Grounds Master Plan, and Technology and Innovation
  • The Darden Annual Fund

The campaign will help support a number of specific goals and enhancements, from making Darden a more affordable and accessible School to enabling a master facilities plan that includes a new on-Grounds inn and meeting center, and updated core academic and community spaces. Early successes in the campaign include new faculty chairs and a new $30 million endowment, thanks to a gift from the Batten Foundation, to ensure every Darden student can have a global experience.

“I believe our world needs business, and I believe it needs responsible leaders, to thrive,” Beardsley said. “I believe Darden is and continues to be that dream machine that allows anyone from anywhere to go anywhere.”

A record-setting campaign is the singular endeavor that will empower Darden to reach the full potential of its mission, Beardsley said.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.