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Darden Announces Seed Funding for Initiative for Transformational Leadership and Learning

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business has raised $2 million that it will use to launch a research center focused on leadership development.

The Initiative for Transformational Leadership and Learning will begin as an initiative working to develop new forms of leadership education.

According to Darden, the initiative’s first tasks will be to “to develop and implement a scientifically verified curriculum and learning laboratory devoted to leading-edge leadership development.” This work in leadership education will be incorporated into Darden’s curricula, such as the MBA program.

“Over time,” says Darden dean Scott Beardsley, “we plan on developing this initiative into a full-blown institute.”

Funding to launch the initiative comes primarily from three gifts: a $1 million gift from Shannon Smith, a Darden alum and CEO of Abundant Power Group; a $500,000 matching gift from the school’s Bicentennial Professors Fund; and a $500,000 gift from the Rainbow Foundation in Jakarta.

Smith’s donation and the matching donation from the Bicentennial Professors fund will go toward creating an endowed chair position. The professor who holds the Shannon G. Smith Bicentennial Professorship will be responsible for leading the initiative.

The Initiative for Transformational Leadership and Learning joins fifteen other initiatives and research centers at Darden. These include the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Richard A. Mayo Center for Asset Management.

According to Beardsley, “the initiative recognizes that the dominant currency of tomorrow’s leaders will be emotional, social and cultural forms of intelligence, and that ethics and values coupled with those interpersonal skills will become a true sustainable advantage for Darden graduates.”

Darden Professor Jim Detert, who specializes in leadership and organizational behavior and is the academic director of the new initiative, echoes Beardsley’s enthusiasm.

He says that both students and faculty “will reap the benefits of our efforts to create evidence-based experiential learning opportunities that prepare individuals at every stage of their careers to be effective, values-driven leaders in the rapidly changing, global environment of the 21st century.”

With Darden stepping up it’s efforts to explore hands-on leadership education, you might be wondering whether the school should be on a list.

Of course, there are other factors that play into that decision: how does your profile fit with what the school is looking for, and how is the adcom likely to view your application?

We can provide insight into these questions and help you develop a comprehensive game plan that shifts the odds of admission in your favor. Ask us for a free assessment!

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