The reception by Brazilians for the team from Darden has been hospitable and fruitful. We reached out to applicants; we consummated a partnership with IBMEC in Sao Paulo; I gave media interviews and a speech to an audience of professors and business executives. We are doing this to build Darden’s global brand and engage the best students.

Darden should aim to attract the best students from the world. The case for this is straightforward:

**Business competition is global. No company or industry enjoys a truly protected competitive sphere anymore. On this point, read Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat.

**Business education should reflect globalization in the structure of its curriculum and in the composition of learning teams and sections. A globally-diverse student body improves our classroom experience. Students have a great deal to teach one another about globalization. An internationally-diverse classroom ensures that students will wrestle with diverse economies and politics, problematic accents, differing cultural biases, and varying presumptions about values. This prepares Americans very well for competing in the world and spreads understanding about America to people from different countries.

**A globally-diverse classroom helps to fulfill Darden’s mission, to “improve society by developing leadings in the world of practical affairs.” The phrase “world of practical affairs” is drawn from the writings of Thomas Jefferson, who understood well the pressures of world competition. There is no better way to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities they will face than by immersing them in a globally-diverse student body.

**Top stature may depend on global engagement. The most recent Financial Times poll compared the various schools on the basis of international diversity of its students, faculty, and trustees. Our long-term goal for Darden is to be ranked among the top ten schools in any global ranking, consistently over time. Globally-leading schools have globally-diverse students of the highest quality.

**Global recruiting serves Virginia and America. Higher education is one of the most robust export products of the United States. If we sell Smithfield hams, Hollywood movies, and Boeing jets to foreign countries, why not sell education? America’s balance of trade can use all the help it can get.

**Global recruiting may help to create a better world for our children. Education and trade promote international understanding and a web of commercial ties that build mutual interest. Business education helps to promote the liberalization of markets and trade. This, in turn tends to promote liberalization of rights and political systems, as Margaret Thatcher has argued. Democracies and open economies tend not to come to blows with each other.

Darden has come a very long way in the 52 years since its founding—this April we will celebrate heartily the 50th reunion of the first graduating class. The Darden School was founded originally to supply the human capital requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia. With ambition and very hard work, the school rose to national and international stature. Think of how the world has changed since 1955: colonialism, the Soviet sphere, and socialism have receded. Propelled by astonishing changes in technology, this is the era of active global trade. Darden should welcome the very best students from around the globe.

Posted by Robert Bruner at 02/09/2007 09:47:20 AM