Dean Emeritus Robert “Bob” Bruner joined the latest installment of “Office Hours,” Presented by Ideas to Action.

Bruner is set to retire this spring from the Darden School faculty after 41 years of teaching and leadership. He is widely respected for his teaching and authorship of business cases.

During his deanship from 2005–15, he worked to solidify Darden’s position as one of the top graduate business schools in the world. During this time, Bruner chartered or led a series of initiatives that prompted the revision of Darden’s residential MBA program, including the launching of Darden’s Executive MBA formats. In 2012, Poets & Quants and CNNMoney/ Fortune named him “Dean of the Year.”

The School recently announced the launch of the Robert F. Bruner Fund for Transformational Learning. The fund, named in honor of Dean Emeritus Robert F. “Bob” Bruner, will support the development of the next generation of faculty and the creation of innovative teaching materials at the Darden School.

From the Conversation

Bruner shared a few of the reasons he decided to initially join the Darden community as a faculty member. “I was struck by a number of very important attributes of the School. One was its relatively smaller size compared to the business schools with which I was familiar up to that point. There was a genuine community feel within the school, the faculty were seriously devoted to the quality of the educational experience of the students. The students bonded deeply, they got to know one another, they socialize together and, as I’ve seen over many years, those bonds remain vital and alive as source of support and some advantage to students as they pursue their careers thereafter.”

“At any rate, I enjoyed the faculty community and Charlottesville is a gorgeous place to spend a couple of years of your life as a residential MBA student. It’s pretty, it’s near natural wonders and a national park, and yet not so far away from big cities. It’s a cosmopolitan city. You can get sushi here just about 24 hours a day. There’s great South Asian food, East Asian, European, Latin… I could go on and on and on. But you have all the benefits of a wonderful deep community, plus the cosmopolitanism that I referred to.”

Bruner has been a member of the Finance faculty at Darden, where he has most recently conducted research on financial crisis, among other topics. He became interested in economics and finance during his own MBA program at Harvard Business School. After working in banking for a few years, Bruner discovered a passion for not only academics and teaching, but exploring how finance can “mobilize capital and mobilize savings, in pursuit of great ventures and projects, both public and private projects that can help society. In finance, you are at the forefront, typically dealing with senior management in your work, and helping in major transactions such as mergers and acquisitions. This is a field in which I specialized and have written several books, and I have realized that you can help companies that are struggling that are in deep distress, maybe even in bankruptcy. All of this is very, very fulfilling work.”

Bruner also noted, “As a card-carrying non-quant from my undergraduate work, I would tell everyone who feels at any disadvantage in that regard not to worry! A good business school education will help you get up to speed in a field such as finance, and prepare you very well do professional work in that field.”

Throughout the conversation, Bruner shared insights on the importance of business education, his research on financial crisis and subsequent publications about the topic (including the panic of 1907), the fragility of banking, reading recommendations and a few lessons learned over his 40+ years at Darden.

Watch the Video Recording on Vimeo

Listen to the Conversation on the Experience Darden Podcast

The Robert F. Bruner Blog provides insights and analysis from Darden School Dean Emeritus Bob Bruner. He is a financial economist and the author or co-author of over 20 books and 400 teaching case studies.


Access recordings to over 20 sessions of "Office Hours," featuring insights from Darden faculty.