Darden’s Lalin Anik Named MBA Professor of the Year
The Darden Report describes Anik’s rise from Darden newcomer to integral faculty contributor.
A professor in the Marketing area, Anik joined Darden ahead of the 2015–16 academic year and quickly became an integral member of the community. She has been nominated for the Outstanding Faculty Award multiple times, received the Faculty Diversity Award in 2017 and 2019 and was selected as a faculty marshal for graduation by the Class of 2019.
Darden is known for its interactive learning approach through the case method, taking care to nurture a top-notch faculty culture in order to facilitate the unique classroom experience. As described by Poets & Quants:
The very first time that Lalin Anik walked into a classroom to teach the core marketing course to a group of first-year MBA students, she was admittedly a nervous wreck. She had done everything she possibly could to prep for the experience at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. She knew every nuance of the case study that would be taught that day like the back of her hand. She had memorized the names, faces, and backgrounds of each student in the class.
After all, the expectations for teaching at the Darden School are extraordinarily high. It is well known for having the best MBA teaching faculty in the world, even better than Harvard or Stanford. So Anik arrived 15 minutes before the start of the class to acclimate herself to the tiered classroom. “I was absolutely scared,” recalls Anik, who remembers visibly shaking. “It was nerve-wracking. I was anxious. I didn’t know if I would be able to teach them well. I didn’t know if I would like them or if they would like me. I had no idea.”
By the session’s end, however, something extraordinary occurred. “I remember incredible kindness and a welcoming embrace,” she says. “There was a lot of energy on their part and they were nervous as well. And I just relaxed and moved through the experience. It was magical.”
Dean Scott Beardsley also shared his admiration for Anik in the recent Poets and Quants announcement.
Her student evaluations are, in the words of Darden Dean Scott Beardsley, “off the charts.” In the five core and three elective courses she has taught at Darden, Anik’s teaching effectiveness score on student evaluations is a remarkable 4.99 on a five-point scale.
“The students admire, both her willingness to have courageous conversations on difficult topics, but also her willingness to think big,” says Beardsley. “And beyond that, she also just brings a lot of joy everywhere she goes.”
Anik’s student evaluations demonstrate her unparalleled commitment to knowing her class and drawing out their individual expertise.
“She does a spectacular job of challenging all students individually, meeting them where they are to ensure they’re comfortable but still pushing them out of their comfort zone. She cares about all her students and wants to get to know us on a personal level.”
Anik has certainly found her stride at Darden, building meaningful relationships across the community.
Her philosophy on teaching is inspiring. “I try to teach my students that marketing is about empathy,” she believes. “It’s about empathy with your customer and the same is true of teaching. It’s not only about you. It’s about the other people in the room. How can you contribute to their learning and their experience? How can you make their life better? So it is always shifting your focus from yourself to others.”
It’s an approach that is close to her heart. “There are a lot of brilliant, interesting and hard-working people, but I really value that if all of it comes into a package with kindness, care for others and deep empathy. That is what makes Darden a special place. Those are the students we recruit and that is what we share in and outside the classroom. Those are the leaders we send to the world. Our job at Darden is to mix intellectual rigor and personal experiences with a framing. So they can take those experiences, keep the rigor but still stay human. Without humanity, there are no real issues or answers. Through business, we are trying to solve problems. It’s about making life better. It’s about creating value and capturing it so you can have sustainable businesses.”