By Dave Hendrick
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business welcomed several new classes of students to Grounds in August: the full-time MBA Class of 2021 with a record-setting 40 percent women, the Executive MBA Class of 2021 with a record 139 students and the Master of Science in business analytics (MSBA) Class of 2020, which grew more than 50 percent to 62 students in only the second year of the program.
“The Best MBA faculty” — according to Poets & Quants, The Princeton Review and The Economist — will teach the new students in all three programs, including seven new professors also welcomed to the School to start the academic year.
First Years Field Tips on Chasing Their Dreams
Welcomed to Grounds on Monday, 19 August, the 336 students joining the full-time MBA represent a remarkably diverse and academically qualified group, including:
- 40 percent women, the highest number and percentage of women in Darden history
- 33 percent international citizens, representing 38 countries
- 21 percent of students identifying as racial or ethnic minorities
- 33 Consortium Fellows and 67 Forte Fellows
Darden has seen a surge in philanthropic support in recent years, allowing the School to dramatically increase awards to talented students, recognizing their accomplishments and potential through prestigious scholarships.
During an opening welcome event in Abbott Auditorium, Senior Associate Dean of the Full-Time MBA Program Tom Steenburgh said the students’ first week was built around an imperative to feel welcomed, feel connected, feel inspired and feel ready.
To that end, the first official week of programming focuses heavily on team and community building, helping to ensure students have a budding support system in place when courses begin on 26 August.
Dean Scott Beardsley described the ways in which the Darden community aims to help new students get the most out of their MBA experience — to help students uncover their personal goals and be prepared for a lifetime of meaningful work.
Beardsley said his own goals for the students were four-fold: to ensure students received a great education; left Darden with the job they wanted; built a robust network; and had a great time in the process.
“We know that you are here to chase a dream, and the entire Darden team stands ready to help you explore and tap into your purpose and give you the skills and capabilities you need to make the difference you want to make in the world,” Beardsley said.
Beardsley reiterated one of the opening week’s theme of community building and mutual support, encouraging students to look out for each other and seek to understand and respect different points of view — a prerequisite for effective leadership.
Darden Student Association President Max Linden and Vice President Rachel Southall, both Class of 2020, looked ahead to a year that would be both challenging and transformative, and encouraged new students to practice “kindness and empathy” as they worked together with their new classmates.
Linden and Southall urged the new First Years not to worry too much about recruiting for their summer internship, but rather focus on how their internship is part of a process building toward the career they aspire to achieve. The Darden Class of 2020 is fresh off a summer in which 100 percent of students received internship offers and worked for more than 145 companies.
Executive Director of Admissions Dawna Clarke welcomed the students via video from India, where she was hosting admissions events to recruit the Class of 2022. She walked through a number of highlights and superlatives for a group she described as “truly distinguished.”
The Class has an average of five years of work experience with more than 200 employers across 30 industries, and 15 students are founders of cofounders of businesses.
The Class reported an average GMAT of 713, an average GPA of 3.5 and nearly 12 percent of the Class plans to pursue a dual degree while earning their MBA.
Executive MBA, MSBA Classes Break Records
The banner Executive MBA Class of 2021 represents the fifth consecutive year of positive enrollment growth.
The students, who come to the program from 13 states across the U.S. and as far away as Indonesia, represent over 20 industries and currently work at a variety of top corporations and in various government sectors.
The work experience profile of the class ranges from five years to over 25 years, with an average years of work experience of 12. The class includes 27 percent women and 24 percent of the students identify as racial or ethnic minorities.
The Class of 2021 has the distinction of being the first cohort based primarily at UVA Darden DC Metro in the Rosslyn district of Arlington, Virginia, although key touchpoints — including the recently concluded first Leadership Residency, remain on Darden Grounds in Charlottesville.
The first residency included team building events, multiple cases, and a case competition related to UVA football attendance judged by key members of the UVA athletics department.
The 12-month MSBA, offered jointly by Darden and UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce, also operates primarily from UVA Darden DC Metro.
The new cohort includes 37 percent women, and 29 percent of students already hold at least one advanced degree. With the 50-plus percent surge in class size from the inaugural cohort, the Class of 2021 brings increased diversity and experience, including 564 total years of work experience varying from two to 40 years.
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., MSBA 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.