Virginia Darden Launches $400M Fundraising Drive

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business has launched a $400 million fundraising campaign, announcing that the school has already raised $236 million during the campaign’s “quiet phase.” Darden photo

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business has announced a major fundraising campaign — and the school also has declared that it is more than halfway to its ambitious goal. Virginia Darden’s “Powered by Purpose” campaign will harness the giving power of the school’s 16,000 alumni in 90 countries to raise $400 million by 2025, a goal made easier by the fact that the school already has raised more than $236 million through the “quiet phase” of the campaign which began in July 2013 following the completion of Darden’s previous campaign.

The Powered by Purpose campaign and fundraising goal supports the University of Virginia’s $5 billion Honor the Future campaign announced on October 12. At an announcement gala, Darden Dean Scott said funds raised from the B-school campaign will support four priorities: faculty, “thought leadership,” and curricular innovation; scholarships, financial aid, and “student experience”; the school’s grounds master plan; and the Darden Annual Fund, through which the school finances “innovative programs, experiential learning opportunities, and enrichment of the Darden experience.”

“This is our moment to power the purposeful,” Beardsley said in a new release. “Through Darden’s unparalleled transformational learning experiences, new generations of leaders will be equipped to solve problems and seize opportunities. By combining innovative thinking and an immovable commitment to the Darden way — our culture, values, tight-knit community, and dedication to honor and purpose — we will help define modern business, just when it is needed most.”


Virginia Darden Dean Scott Beardsley. UVA photo

Darden is riding a tsunami of recent fundraising. In May, the school announced a “transformational gift” from Class of 1963 MBA Frank M. Sands Sr. that will deliver $82 million in total philanthropic impact through a $68 million gift and $14 million in matching funds from the Bicentennial Professors Fund. That gift came on the heels of an earlier $5 million joint donation Sands Sr. made with his son, Frank Sands Jr., who himself earned an MBA from Darden in 1994. The Sands’ generosity will create the new Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning, supporting 12 new professorships and building world-class facilities that include a new UVA Inn at Darden and a Conference Center for Lifelong Learning in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This month, the University of Virginia announced another transformational gift that will support students and professors at Darden and elsewhere across the university. David Walentas, a 1961 graduate of UVA and 1964 graduate of the Darden School, and his wife Jane made a $100 million gift to the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, of which $38 million will advance the Darden School in three ways: through a new $25 million Walentas fellowship program for first-generation students; through $8 million in additional funding for the existing Darden Jefferson Fellowship Program; and through $5 million for a new Jefferson Scholars Foundation Professorship in real estate.

Dean Beardsley, a former McKinsey & Company partner, has been a highly effective fundraiser for the Darden School. The school raised more than $40.6 million in new commitments in fiscal 2018, its second consecutive record-breaking fundraising year, then skyrocketed into the stratosphere in 2019 with $102.9 million in overall new commitments, an increase of 153%. Outside the gifts from the Sands and Walentas, Beardsley has generated nearly $180 million in new commitments and matching funds since arriving at Darden as dean about four years ago. He already has been reappointed to a second five-year term as dean.

“For the third year in a row, Darden has secured one of the best fundraising years in the history of the school,” Beardsley said in May. “I am pleased our donors are inspired by Darden’s strategic priorities, and that they align with their philanthropic passions. Although there is still much to do, these are exciting times as we position Darden as a globally preeminent institution shaping the future of graduate business education.”


Philanthropy during the early stages of Darden’s campaign has already propelled several innovations at Darden, according to the school:

  • The opening of a Washington, D.C.-area campus — UVA Darden DC Metro at the Sands Family Grounds — that serves as home base to Darden’s Executive MBA and the Master of Science in Business Analytics program jointly offered by Darden and UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce.
  • A new Batten Foundation Darden Worldwide Scholarship program, which provides every student in Darden’s full-time MBA program a scholarship that covers the course fee to attend a Darden Worldwide Course.
  • 22 new endowed professorships and 66 new scholarship endowments have been established. Many of these endowments benefitted from matching funds through UVA’s Bicentennial Professors Fund and Bicentennial Scholars Fund.

The early gifts have shown the potential of the new campaign, says Jim Cooper, a Class of 1984 Darden MBA, member of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees, and chair of the Powered by Purpose campaign.

“The impact of these early gifts sets an incredible tone for the promise and potential of this campaign,” Cooper said, “which is poised to position Darden among globally preeminent business schools for generations to come.”


The aspirations for the business school’s Powered by Purpose campaign are closely aligned with those of UVA’s Honor the Future campaign, UVA President Jim Ryan said in a news release.

“As UVA launches its Honor the Future campaign, I am thrilled for the potential of this important moment to strengthen the schools that make up our remarkable University,” Ryan said. “The Darden School of Business continues to be a force for good at UVA and in the world at large. Through faculty research and a close connection to business practice, Darden provides accessible and relevant ideas for global leaders who see an active and responsible role for business in society.”

Added Kara Ramirez Mullins, vice president of the Darden Office of Advancement: “When our incredible alumni unite behind a purpose, the Darden network is an unstoppable force that unlocks doors and expands horizons. On behalf of the students and professors whose lives are changed immeasurably through philanthropy, I offer my sincere gratitude to Darden alumni and friends as they consider how to make an impact through the Powered by Purpose campaign.”


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