How Darden Is Putting Charlottesville’s Protest Behind It

The Darden School of Business located at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. Photo/Andrew Shurtleff

A CRISIS HAS BROUGHT OUT THE BEST OF THE CHARLOTTESVILLE COMMUNITY

If anything, the crisis brought out the best of this community. There have been candle-lit vigils drawing thousands in support of racial equality, a free music festival featuring Dave Matthews, Stevie Wonder and Coldplay, and this past weekend’s ceLebration of the university’s bicenntenial that drew more than 20,000 to the universtiy’s central grounds in front of the iconic Rotunda build by Thomas Jefferson.

“I want everyone to know this is an amazing place,” insists Beardsley, challenging anyone to look up the murder rates of cities where other leading busness schools are based, whether Chicago or Palo Alto, and compare them to Charlottesville. “Love is stronger than hate and this university will recover strongly. We are rebounding already. It is remarkable.”

If Beardsley can almost sound as protective as a parent in defending the town, the university and the business school, it may well be because he has completely embraced the academic life here. He chose to live in one of the pavilions that flank the expansive Lawn set off by the iconic Rotunda. Each of the homes in this academic village was designed by Thomas Jefferson who spent the last 20 years of his life creating the University of Virginia. Jefferson wanted faculty to live next to students and to teach them in classrooms in each pavilion. Beardsley, the first Darden dean in 15 years to live on the “Central Grounds,” has taught seminars in the basement of his home that once served as slave quarters. He also has promised a ‘Lawn experience” to every Darden student.

‘WE USED IT AS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE’

So for him, the shock of seeing white nationalists march past his home with Tiki-torches, chanting racist slogans, was something of a personal affront. In the aftermath of the violent rally, Beardsley brought the students together for open dialogues. “We used it as a learning experience,” he says. “Every student, as a global leader is going to face a crisis. The number of things picked up by social media that requires a leader’s attention is going up, and learning how to address them is part of being a responsible leader.”

For Beardsley, only the second of nine Darden deans to come from outside academia, the crisis comes just as he can point to formidable progress against the strategic priorities he set quickly after arriving here 26 months ago.

Among other things, he has raised $13.7 million in new commitments for MBA scholarships, a 70% increase over fiscal year 2016 and a whopping 700% jump over fiscal 2015. From 2015 to 2018, the dean has doubled the discount rate on the cost of a Darden MBA and guaranteed full loan availability for international students.

‘MY OBJECTIVE IS TO MAKE AN MBA CHEAPER, MORE AFFORDABLE AND MORE ACCESSIBLE’

“My objective,” says Beardsley, “is to make school cheaper, more affordable and more accessible and to help maximize student potential.” Beardsley himself was the beneficiary of an Eastman Kodak scholarship when he earned his undergraduate degree at Tufts University in electrical engineering. “They changed my life. My parents couldn’t afford to pay for anything other than my airplane ticket to Boston from Alaska.”

He believes that one reason fewer students are applying to two-year MBA programs has to do with the escalating costs of tuition and fees at many business schools. “We have to fix that perception. We just had our annual scholarship dinner, bringing together donors with recipients. I am telling you there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Yet, we’re not even talking about all the people who don’t apply because they believe they can’t afford it.”

Last year, under a newly recruited executive director of advancement from the Brookings Institution, Darden reported its best fundraising year since 1999 when Frank Batten gave the school it’s largest single gift of $60 million. The school brought in $30.6 million in pledges in 2017, allowing its endowment to reach an all-time high of $467 million.

HAS DOUBLED THE NUMBER OF MBA STUDENTS WHO HAVE A GLOBAL EXPERIENCE

He also has upped the ante on globalizing the school. “I want Darden to be the most global business school in the U.S.,” he says, firmly. “For me, being global is core curriculum. We’re doubling the number of days MBA students spend abroad, and we’d like to double the days again.”

Last year, three of every four students had a global experience in one or more of 36 locations in 15 countries, double the number of students who took advantage of such excursions before. Beardsley himself taught a class in Belgium and Holland, taking 30 students to those countries. He’s also making more financial aid available to MBAs who want to take advantage of the program’s global opportunities. Nine out of the dozen faculty hires he has made have foreign passports.

And he has opened a Darden campus in Washington, D.C., securing a major gift for a new 40,000 square foot facility on two floors of an office tower in Rosslyn, Va., and offering a new section of the school’s Executive MBA program there. led the faculty in a redesign of Darden’s existing Global EMBA and EMBA programs, launched a new dual degree with the university’s Data Science Institute and is waiting on university approval for a joint degree in business analytics with UVA’s McIntyre School of Commerce, its separate undergraduate business school.

DEAN SCOTT BEARDSLEY’S FIVE PRIORITIES FOR DARDEN
1. Attract exceptional students by delivering and enhancing the world’s best, affordable, global education experience.
2. Attract and develop diverse, world-class faculty and staff talent.
3. Advance scholarly research and pratitioner-relevant thought leadership.
4. Expand competitive infrastructure, global brand and network at UVA and beyond.
5. All enabled by expanded resources, outstanding executive education, technology and innovation.
  • Edward N Virginia

    Dear Sir/Ms/Them (since we do not know your preferred gender identity):

    Read our discussion above. Here’s excerpt:

    QUOTE

    Even though the protesters came in from out of town …

    FALSE. Many came from out of town. On my own I recognized many ‘career anarchists’ from Richmond because I know them. BUT, many were local folks, certainly. And the continuing protests at City Council meetings, City Planning Commission meetings, City forums, and other City events ARE EVIDENCE that many are from Charlottesville.

    … and even though it was a random event …

    FALSE! The City Council meeting of early December 2014 – THREE YEARS AGO – featured all the things we’ve been seeing through the past couple years, endorsed that long ago, and instantiated as modus operandi of City Council. An incompetent City Council – perhaps pathologically incompetent – but incompetent for sure. A Constitutionally suspect City Council – as adjudicated by at least two court findings. A morally dangerous City Council – as attested to by perceptive activists on all sides and every extreme; both the White Nationalists have called them so, and Black Lives Matter have called them so.

    In the December 15 2014 City Council meeting a MOB shouted down and threatened an elderly speaker – who was speaking in turn according to public comment rules – because they did not like his speech. The MOB – lead by then citizen – now Councilor Bellamy – and reportedly including a current candidate for City Council – threatened an elderly speaker. Got that?! And what did Council do? They asked police to remove the elderly speaker. To protect him? NO! But to satisfy the MOB! Got it? City Council used their POLICE POWERS to prohibit speech that was protected, and timely, but that they did not like, in order to satisfy a threatening MOB! Sound like present times? And what next? Council’s let the MOB take over the meeting for 20-30 minutes!

    … in a place known for its progressive values, the incident is having a predictable impact on early applications to both the wider university and its business school.

    Is SUMMONING POLICE POWERS to prevent rather than to protect speech ‘progressive’? Is encouraging MOB RULE in public affairs ‘progressive’? Is allowing threats to innocent others go unsanctioned ‘progressive’? Is rewarding a mob for threatening innocent others ‘progressive’? And these questions arise from just one meeting.

    UNQUOTE

  • Edward N Virginia

    Global elites are treated much better in Charlottesville that local poor and working classes. So don’t worry. Ya’ll come.

  • Edward N Virginia

    Isn’t it a bit ‘White Supremacy -y’ to be discounting Hitler? If you said that out loud wouldn’t you expect a harassment complaint?

  • Edward N Virginia

    And ancient aliens built the pyramids.

  • Edward N Virginia

    QUOTE
    Charlottesville is an incredibly safe, family friendly town
    UNQUOTE

    UVA STUDENTS, UVA public intellectuals, and many local people have repeatedly insisted that the City if a hell hole of anciently contrived and continually manifest White Supremacy. So, how do you reconcile your ‘Visitor’s Bureau’ slogan with all that?

    And, of course Darden is an incredible school! But, up in the ivory tower/monastic retreat of business-preneurs, graduating into multiple six-figure salaries and immense privilege of the global elite, actually know about the reality of the folks who are living with cross-generational social pathologies, disparities, inequities, and prejudices. You are smart enough to know something – at least – about social structural White Supremacy (that is of course about more than just ‘race’ or ‘color’, e.g. Virginia legislature passed its Racial Integrity Act and its Eugenically Sterilization Act in the same year), social determinants of health and illness, Marmot’s social gradient, and Maslow’s hierarch of needs, epigenetics, etc, right?

  • Edward N Virginia

    QUOTE
    Even though the protesters came in from out of town and even though it was a random event in a place known for its progressive values, the incident is having a predictable impact on early applications to both the wider university and its business school.
    UNQUOTE

    As UVA academic community should know by now, since the community has been deluged with public intellectuals spouting lot of good info and bad info, and stupid info, and harmful info about White Supremacy, there are many unconscious or ‘implicit’ biases which, it seems, are largely not intentionally harbored, but they can be recognized, and, like any other bad habit, might be changes. But, of course it is hard to change bad habits, ain’t it? That does not mean we should not try but it does mean that communities must be supportive of all its members and residents and subscribers to overcome bad habits. E.g Thaler and Sunstein’s good short book, Nudge, describes how social leverage can be a community’s ally toward such a salutary goal. Great book. And certainly one that all Darden faculty, staff, and students should know.

    There are also biases that are overt, intentional or unintentional. Overt unintentional biases need legal remedy, but may more quickly respond to organizational cultural, and social cultural change. Darden folks ought to be experts with that, too.

    Now, overt intentional biases: those likely need the remedy of legal interventions, to protect and to repair those harmed, and to sanction those harming.

    What is the sanction for writers who OVERTLY AND INTENTIONALLY speak/write with bias? For example, the quote from this article is OVERTLY AND INTENTIONALLY BIASED.

    QUOTE
    Even though the protesters came in from out of town …

    FALSE. Many came from out of town. On my own I recognized many ‘career anarchists’ from Richmond because I know them. BUT, many were local folks, certainly. And the continuing protests at City Council meetings, City Planning Commission meetings, City forums, and other City events ARE EVIDENCE that many are from Charlottesville.

    … and even though it was a random event …

    FALSE! The City Council meeting of early December 2014 – THREE YEARS AGO – featured all the things we’ve been seeing through the past couple years, endorsed that long ago, and instantiated as modus operandi of City Council. An incompetent City Council – perhaps pathologically incompetent – but incompetent for sure. A Constitutionally suspect City Council – as adjudicated by at least two court findings. A morally dangerous City Council – as attested to by perceptive activists on all sides and every extreme; both the White Nationalists have called them so, and Black Lives Matter have called them so.

    In the December 15 2014 City Council meeting a MOB shouted down and threatened an elderly speaker – who was speaking in turn according to public comment rules – because they did not like his speech. The MOB – lead by then citizen – now Councilor Bellamy – and reportedly including a current candidate for City Council – threatened an elderly speaker. Got that?! And what did Council do? They asked police to remove the elderly speaker. To protect him? NO! But to satisfy the MOB! Got it? City Council used their POLICE POWERS to prohibit speech that was protected, and timely, but that they did not like, in order to satisfy a threatening MOB! Sound like present times? And what next? Council’s let the MOB take over the meeting for 20-30 minutes!

    … in a place known for its progressive values, the incident is having a predictable impact on early applications to both the wider university and its business school.

    Is SUMMONING POLICE POWERS to prevent rather than to protect speech ‘progressive’? Is encouraging MOB RULE in public affairs ‘progressive’? Is allowing threats to innocent others go unsanctioned ‘progressive’? Is rewarding a mob for threatening innocent others ‘progressive’? And these questions arise from just one meeting.
    UNQUOTE

    So, what are the ways that this writer can correct her/his/their INTENTIONALLY BIASED reporting?

    And, we might add: what can Darden – and its immense resources – do to ensure that the local community is a better society when years and decades of the hard and good work of many is undermined and destroyed by a succession of incompetent, unlawful and dangerous City Councils?

  • lhasan2

    You have no idea what you’re talking about. The group was not only not UVA students, they were all from out of town.

  • Good point re: int’l students. Lots of my international friends are quite apprehensive for their futures in the U.S. under this administration.

  • Marc Ethier
  • Darden

    Any articles on Trump and B-school conundrum ?

  • UVA

    Agreed!

    Plus the kind of warmth and support it is getting from the other B-schools with tags like #WeStandByTuck (and similar ones) on the Instagram/twitter is unprecedented.

    Just to add, nobody can stop me from going to Tuck incase I can an admit.

    But at the same time being an international student under Trump can be immensely byzantine.Just gotta be skeptical.

    Thanks

  • DardenRejected

    well, to be honest, if I got into UVA DArden, even hitler will not be able to prevent me from attending the school, even if i forced to live in the classroom 🙂 It is one of the best schools in the planet and its people, students, staff, alumni all are just incredibly amazing people.

  • Tommy

    Charlottesville is an incredibly safe, family friendly town and Darden is a incredible business school. Thanks for the article.

  • I was in Charlottesville this past weekend when that protest occurred. It is not even remotely possible that “about 90 percent” of the 40 to 50 protesters were UVA students. I very much doubt that a single UVA student was there. These people literally came on a bus, walked around for 10 minutes, and then left on the same bus that drove them out of the city. In no way does this reflect on progressive values and welcoming nature of the the community of Charlottesville. It’s precisely because Charlottesville is a progressive place that a few wackos are coming here. The fact that they came for no more than ten minutes and then rushed off in a bus shows you how afraid they are to stay because they know the community would overwhelm them.

  • UVA

    You do realise that yesterday there was yet another white nationalist protest?

    Though it had nothing to do with UVA but about 90 percent of the people were UVA students.

    As an international student its a BIG turn off.