AN IDEA IN THE SHOWER: A COMPETITION FOR A FREE TRIP TO DARDEN FOR INTERNATIONALS
But now he is facing that public relations crisis, and it seems to consume him. He has already reactivated a deferred admit program for undergraduates—dubbed Future Year Scholars Program—similar to Harvard Business School’s 2+2 option. And after a game of tennis this past Sunday, he stepped into a shower, his mind racing tabout how to get more international students to apply. He wondered if a program that would invite global candidates to compete for an expenses-paid visit to the campus would help put Darden back into the consideration set.
Beardsley recently recruited and hired the former admissions chief of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, Dawna Clarke, who is considering a range of pro-active moves, including reinstating an open interview policy so that every applicant could have an admissions interview, similar to Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Tuck. In fact, Darden once had that same policy when Clarke was head of admissions at Darden from 1990 to 2005.
Clarke, too, sings the praises of the area. In fact, even before taking the job at Darden, she and her husband, Jon, purchased a home in Charlottesville. “This is an amazing community,” she says. “When Scott called to make an offer, he said, ‘The Darden community wants you to return home.’ I can’t imagine a more meaningful way for a dean to make a job offer. And I can’t think of a better place to be right now. People, institutions and communities often come out stronger in the aftermath of a tragedy and Charlottesville, Darden and UVA are perfect examples.”
‘YIKES, THIS PLACE IS INCREDIBLE!’
Michael Woodfolk, who became in March the first African-American president of the Darden School Foundation, which funds the school’s operations. agrees. “There is a richness and vibrant excitement to our community,” he says. “People from all walks of life take great pride in this community. What happened here is not representative of Charlottesville.”
The new dean just wants more people to know what Clarke, Woodfolk and others already know: Just how great an institution Darden is. His very first visit to the school occurred in September of 2014 when he came incognito on a Saturday afternoon to tour the grounds and stroll through the open buildings of the Darden campus. A tennis fanatic, Beardsley even wandered over to the university’s tennis courts and watched the UVA team–which would win the national championships that year–in a vigorous match with Louisville. Finally, he sat on a bench near a statue of Thomas Jefferson and called his wife, Claire, back in Brussels. She recalls hearing the excitement in his voice about the possiblity of becoming Darden’s dean and resolved to get herself ready for a big move.
“I became very intrigued and excited at that time,” he says. “I thought to myself, ‘Yikes, this place is incredible!’
Now all he has to do is let the world know just how incredible it is.