Today is the formal launch of Darden’s and UVA’s capital campaign. We have friends and alumni here in great numbers this weekend. There is a great sense of anticipation in the air, regarding what this University can become with the help of many people.

I’m asked repeatedly for our vision of the school ten years into the future. A few people ask us how we will get there. The “how” question reminds me of a comment by the great professional tennis player, Andre Agassi—he is also a philanthropist and budding real estate magnate. Michael Fraizer, the CEO of Genworth (a corporate partner of Darden) asked Agassi how much tennis he played each day to stay in shape for competition. Agassi replied, “I know how to play tennis well enough. The issue is conditioning. If I don’t get to the ball, I don’t get options.” So Agassi described a very tough conditioning program he pursues with weights, running drills, and so on.

The issue is getting to the ball to harvest the right to hit it back to your opponent. Rights are options. As we teach in Finance at Darden, options are vital and valuable. A company or individual without options is stuck.

Agassi tells us something profound about career development and development of academic institutions. Conditioning earns you the right to take the next big step. A great MBA degree program can condition you to advance in your career. Conditioning for Darden means investing heavily in new talent, in research, in training of teachers, in new technology for classrooms, and in scholarships. Our capital campaign will drive our conditioning which in turn will raise Darden’s game.
Bob Bruner
Dean, Darden School of Business

Posted by Robert Bruner at 09/29/2006 04:03:37 PM