Laura Morgan Roberts comes to the University of Virginia Darden School of Business from not far away — last year she taught at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. Not only that, but the move is a homecoming for her: Roberts graduated from the UVA College of Arts & Sciences in 1996, earning a bachelor’s in psychology right before she moved to Michigan to begin studying for her Ph.D., which she finished in 2002. “Charlottesville,” she says, “is fantastic. Anytime in Charlottesville for me, is just filled with a lot of nostalgia.”
An author, researcher, and organizational consultant whose research has focused on authenticity, identity, and diversity, Roberts taught a lot of leadership and organizational behavior courses at Georgetown, including Leading Organizational Change. She has been published in over 30 journal articles, book chapters, and edited books, including Race, Work and Leadership: New Perspectives on the Black Experience, which she recently co-edited for Harvard Business Review Press. At Darden, for her first year, she is teaching Negotiations and Talent Management in the executive MBA program, with the expectation that she will teach at least one elective in the MBA program in fall 2020.
“My Darden colleagues are dynamic thought leaders doing lots of interesting, engaging work, especially in topics related to diversity and inclusion,” Roberts tells P&Q. “That is something that is really exciting for me and it creates more opportunities to continue to collaborate and teach in those areas.”
She particularly embraces Darden’s use of the case method. “Teaching by the case method is part of the cornerstone of my teaching technique,” she says. “Because I started my faculty career at HBS, I’ve written cases, and so it’s wonderful to be in an environment where the students and faculty all appreciate the role that the learner plays in helping satiate the process of discovery — and using cases in ways to understand how we can improve individuals and organizational effectiveness.”
Though she’ll begin her Darden career in the executive MBA, with time split between the school’s Charlotteville and Rosslyn campuses, Roberts already feels a part of the school’s tight-knit graduate business community.
“The school as a whole really has a community orientation,” she says, “and the EMBAs are included in that community orientation. It’s one of those schools in which the executive programs are not just off to the side as moneymakers — they are embedded with the learning environment and with the level of engagement on the part of students, faculty, and staff.”