Dean of the Year: Darden’s Robert Bruner

The Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia

Believes Rodriguez: “What Bob left (the task force assignment) with is a greater conviction that this is both an integral part of being elite and valuable as a business school of the future and a greater appreciation for how hard it is to do. Creating the optics of globalization are a lot easier than creating true value.”

Now at least half the MBA students are going abroad on multi-week excursions to study business cultures in other countries. The case studies in the core curriculum that are substantially non-domestic have risen to nearly 30% of the total from a “mere rounding number” in 2005, says Rodriguez. “It was completely inadequate,” he adds.

Those new case studies are being written by a faculty that increasingly holds foreign passports and does more research than ever across country boundaries. A new global executive MBA program, which features two-week international residencies in Brazil, India, Europe and China, is meant to give Darden faculty still greater exposure to international markets and cultures.

The school is inviting more international speakers to campus to lecture and more companies to recruit for positions with international tracks. A new technology and design course includes an applied field project requiring students to go to Israeli to work with startups for several weeks. Darden expects to replicate this course-and-project model to add more international exposure into the curriculum.

Bruner is not making the case that Darden is yet there. In fact, only 27% of the school’s full-time MBAs are from outside the U.S., less than Harvard’s 34% or Stanford’s 32%. But he’s in the midst of a major effort to significantly increase the percentage of international students at Darden.

“I am not satisfied with our percentage of international students, and we are working quite hard this year on a series of initiatives aiming to draw a wider pool of applicants internationally,” he says. “We’re also reflecting very deeply on the kind of curriculum we need to offer that is right for international students.”

That should be good news to the woman in Shanghai who wagged her finger at the dean.

Poets&Quants Other Dean of the Year Nominees:

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria
Stanford Graduate School of Business Dean Garth Saloner
Dartmouth College Tuck Schoool of Business Dean Paul Danos
Indian School of Business Dean Ajit Rangnekar