Academics, Darden Community, Executive MBA, Full-Time MBA, Podcast

An ‘Unprecedented’ Fall Semester? Unexpected Opportunities and Guiding Principles

By Brett Twitty-

Curious about how COVID-19 impacted the full-time MBA and Executive MBA programs at Darden this fall? Hear firsthand as Senior Associate Deans Tom Steenburgh and Yael Grushka-Cockayne share their reflections on a fall semester unlike any other. During this episode, Steenburgh and Grushka-Cockayne discuss teaching in the new hybrid class format, weigh the challenges and opportunities created by COVID-19 and highlight the principles guiding Darden’s planning efforts for the months ahead.

This podcast interview provides an insider’s perspective of the school’s big pivot in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a shift that actually began in during Quarter 4. As both Steenburgh and Grushka-Cockayne note, Darden’s faculty, staff and students have worked exceptionally hard to make this semester a success. Faculty held weekly meetings to share teaching strategies. Staff logged countless hours adding new technologies to the Darden classrooms and supporting virtual and hybrid class sessions. Students supported each other other while observing the University’s health and safety guidelines, ensuring that it was still possible to have in-person learning and social opportunities.

Experience Darden #89: Fall Semester Special with Senior Associate Deans Tom Steenburgh and Yael Grushka-Cockayne 

On a Lighter Note

During this episode, you will learn that Grushka-Cockayne is a big movie fan. If you are looking for something to stream over the winter break, she was kind enough to share her Top 31 movie countdown. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is in PowerPoint, but it is a fascinating and eclectic list. This recent video interview with Yael contains a spoiler about her favorite movie of all time, and it may just be the only business school faculty interview that makes time for both Gantt charts and footwear.

Yael’s Top 31 Movie Countdown

A Pandemic Playlist

If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into the school’s efforts in response to COVID-19, we’ve curated a special playlist for your consideration:

In Episode #85, Associate Director Zakiah Pierre highlighted the many ways Darden students were finding to build community during the pandemic.

In Episode #74, Tom Steenburgh joined us to reflect upon Darden’s response to the pandemic and the many preparations for the arrival of the Full-Time MBA Class of 2022. For Executive MBA-related insights, listen to Yael’s interview from this summer discussing plans for Leadership Residency 1 (LR1) and the fall semester.

In Episode #73, Executive Director Sean Carr detailed the ways the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation pivoted its programming, including the summer incubator program, in response to COVID-19.

In Episode #64, Darden Student Association (DSA) leaders Megan Bailey (Class of 2021) and Henrique Lopes (Class of 2021) reflected upon the transition to virtual classes last spring, and how the DSA was supporting the community during this time of social distancing.

In Episode #63, Assistant Dean for Career Development Jeff McNish offered insights about how the Career team was supporting students during the early days of the pandemic. And be sure to also check out Jeff’s recent episode, featuring Casey Floyd, Director of Employer Engagement & Recruiting, about the transition to vitual recruiting this all.

In Episode #62, Dean Scott Beardsley joined us to talk about leading during a pandemic and how his long tenure at McKinsey guides his work as Dean.

In Episode #61, Assistant Dean Joanne Meier discussed the school’s transition to virtual instruction during Quarter 4 of the 2019-2020 academic year.

In Episode #60, Senior Executive Director Marc Johnson (EMBA ’13) highlighted the School’s early response to COVID-19 and the University’s planning for the start of classes in August.

Thank You

And wherever you are, we hope you and your loved ones are staying safe during this challenging time. We are so appreciative of all of our prospective students who have listened to our podcast episodes, read our blog posts, joined us online for our events and just generally been engaged with our Admissions team during this challenging year. We wish you a restful holiday season and very happy new year!

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