Darden’s New $30M Scholarship Program

Darden Dean Scott Beardsley

Since becoming dean of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business in mid-2015, Scott Beardsley established an unsual goal: To make business school more affordable and more accessible.

The motivation for that objective is personal. Beardsley 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.”

At Darden, 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.


And today (March 12), Beardsley announced yet another major step toward making the Darden MBA experience more affordable. A $15 million gift from the Batten Foundation, matched by UVA’s Bicentennial Scholars Fund, has resulted in a $30 million endowment that will provide every student in Darden’s full-time MBA program a scholarship to attend a Darden Worldwide course at no incremental cost.

The gift is the largest gift to the Darden School since the Batten family established the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation through a $60 million gift in 1999.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Batten Foundation for enabling this game-changing opportunity, which positions Darden to provide each MBA student funding for a global course through a scholarship,” said Beardsley in a statement.  “This gift will have a major impact on Darden. It makes the school more affordable and global, and gives students the opportunity to explore the world in which they will be tomorrow’s leaders.”


The school said that the  gift makes Darden unique among top MBA programs in its ability to offer each student a global experience fully funded by philanthropy. The global immersions typically cost $3,000 per MBA student.

In recent years, Darden has significantly increased its offering of Darden Worldwide courses — faculty-led courses of typically seven to 10 days. Over the past two years, student participation in courses outside the U.S. has more than doubled. This spring, students will have the option to choose from 14 courses on five continents, including courses exploring business in uncertain economic environments in Argentina, artificial intelligence and robotics in Germany, and government’s influence on business in China, among others. During the courses, students visit local companies, educators and officials, gaining hands-on experiences in new business environments and cultures guided by a Darden faculty member.

“Thanks to the Batten Foundation gift and matching funds from the UVA Bicentennial Scholars Fund, Darden will have the support to fulfill its aspiration for 100 percent of full-time MBA students to complete a significant global learning experience outside Charlottesville during their time at the school,” added Beardsley.


The Batten Foundation Darden Worldwide Scholarships will have an immediate impact for the MBA Class of 2020, which will arrive in August 2018. For these incoming students, the gift, combined with other philanthropy and Darden investment, will allow Darden to award a scholarship to every student in the class that will cover fees for a Darden Worldwide course, if the course is not already funded.

When the Batten Foundation gift is fully funded in 2020, the scholarships will cover course fees and most travel costs for every Darden full-time MBA student to participate in a global experience.

The $15 million gift from the Batten Foundation, a Virginia-based private foundation, was matched 100 percent by the University of Virginia’s Bicentennial Scholars Fund, a new giving initiative created through UVA’s Strategic Investment Fund. UVA’s Board of Visitors established the Bicentennial Scholars Fund to play a crucial role making a UVA education accessible and affordable for students from all backgrounds, regardless of their financial situations.


The $15 million match from the Bicentennial Scholars Fund for the Batten Foundation gift is equal to the largest match to date from the fund. UVA’s Board of Visitors allocated a total of $100 million toward the fund to match major gifts supporting student scholarships.

“The University of Virginia is committed to the intertwined principles of excellence and affordability,” said UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan in a statement. “Darden fully embraces these principles, and with an infusion of energy from this generous philanthropic gift, Darden can continue to pursue its mission of preparing students from all walks of life for global leadership and service.”

“We are incredibly grateful to the Batten Foundation and its support. As we approach the Third Century Campaign at Darden, this transformational gift sets the tone and provides a strong foundation on which to build. With this inspired gift, thousands of Darden students will be able to personally experience and better understand the world,” said Beardsley. ”The Batten Foundation Darden Worldwide Scholarships will ensure that our students are prepared to serve as distinctive leaders defined by global sophistication, entrepreneurial orientation and action-based responsibility, in the workplace and beyond. This gift will make a world of difference.”