By Julie Daum

Newswise — The University of Virginia Darden School of Business today announced several new leadership appointments to its MBA program team in preparation for the 2017–18 academic year and in support of its continuous efforts to enhance Darden’s renowned educational experience.

“At the conclusion of an outstanding year for Darden’s MBA program, during which we welcomed the most diverse full-time MBA class in the School’s history and launched a new section of Darden’s Executive MBA in the Washington, D.C., area, I am delighted to announce new leadership roles,” said Darden Dean Scott Beardsley. “These leaders will continue to shape Darden’s MBA education experience, which provides unmatched and personalized preparation for an extraordinary career and a lifetime of meaningful work.”

  • Professor Bob Conroy will serve as associate dean of the full-time MBA program. He succeeds Professor Marc Lipson, who will return to the faculty as the Robert F. Vandell Professor of Business Administration in the area of Finance. The J. Harvie Wilkinson Jr. Professor of Business Administration, Conroy has served previously as associate dean of Darden’s MBA program and is a proven innovator in the space.
  • Sara Neher will serve as assistant dean of strategic initiatives. Neher, who has served for 11 years in the role of assistant dean of Admissions, will work in collaboration with the dean’s office on projects of strategic importance to the School. Among other areas, she will focus on supporting implementation of Darden’s ambitious facilities master plan.
  • Whitney Kestner will serve as interim assistant dean of Admissions. Kestner has served as director of Admissions operations for several years and will continue strong momentum in Admissions for Darden’s full-time MBA and Executive MBA, which is delivered in two formats (Executive MBA and Global Executive MBA) and two locations (Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area). An international search for a new executive director of Admissions and Financial Aid is underway.
  • Professor Martin Davidson will serve as senior associate dean and chief global diversity officer. Davidson is the Johnson and Higgins Professor of Business Administration and a renowned thought leader in the areas of leveraging difference and global leadership.
  • Marc Johnson will serve as senior executive director for global affairs and enterprise initiatives. Johnson will continue to lead the Center for Global Initiatives, which has doubled the number of days Darden students study abroad in the past two years. Working closely with Darden and MBA program leadership, Johnson will work to fulfill the aspiration that every Darden student has at least one significant global experience through Darden’s global program offerings, including Darden Worldwide Courses, Global Executive MBA courses and global consulting projects, while helping innovate in other enterprise areas.
  • Larry Mueller will serve in a new role as assistant dean for global advising, working with the Center for Global Initiatives. He will serve as a key resource for international students for their Darden experience and will advise the MBA program and faculty leadership as they shape the global curriculum and continue to advance global learning and opportunities.

In support of Darden’s commitment to personalized career services for both students and recruiters, the School will also introduce several new innovations this summer to its Career Development Center.

Darden is completing an outstanding year of career outcomes for the Classes of 2017 and 2018 that saw 100 percent of First Year internship seekers secure jobs, and year-over-year improvement in outcome statistics for recent graduates. Top hiring firms included Amazon, Google and Microsoft Corp. in technology; JP Morgan Chase & Co., Credit Suisse, Evercore and Goldman Sachs in financial services; Johnson & Johnson, E&J Gallo Winery and Danaher Corp. in industry; and Accenture, Bain & Co., Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Co. in consulting, among others. To build on this momentum, Darden will further strengthen its link to key career areas. The School will hire three new senior career specialists focused on the areas of: technology, entrepreneurship, digital and consumer careers; financial services careers (including private equity and venture capital); and consulting and professional services careers.

“Darden’s MBA develops responsible leaders and general managers who are recognized for their outstanding preparation as they enter new professional opportunities or advance in current ones,” said Professor Ron Wilcox, senior associate dean for degree programs who oversees both the full-time MBA and Executive MBA. “Our graduates have compelling C-suite potential, and our goal is to help each student find his or her passion and professional reward. To do this, we need great leadership, and I am confident that with these leaders, we are well-positioned for the opportunities ahead.

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.