My Transition to Come: Dean to Professor

Yesterday, UVA President Terry Sullivan announced my intention to transition back to Darden’s faculty at the end of my second term as Dean, July 31, 2015. I call on the Darden Community to support the Dean search process with advice, nominees, good will, and the patience that a major executive search demands. The Search Committee will be chaired by Professor Ken Eades and is chartered by UVA’s Provost, John Simon. Their search process will be thorough, professional, and engaging of all of Darden’s constituencies. Given the healthy lead time, I’m confident that the search will be a success.

My choice to return to teaching and writing was the result of a lot of personal reflection and discussion with family, colleagues, alumni, and, of course, the President. It’s been no secret: most colleagues have known about my intention since 2011. But the most frequently asked question is this: if I’m happy and Darden is in a good place, why let up? Here’s my thinking:

  • We’ve finished much of what I hoped we would achieve when I accepted the deanship in 2005. Darden has challenges and opportunities ahead–and the school is in great shape to meet them: the world’s best faculty (say several rankings); distinguished Grounds; devoted alumni; transformational learning experience; awesome students; and large endowment. I didn’t accomplish all that; the whole community did. I’m just pleased to have had a voice in the chorus.

  • I love to teach and write, for which I entered academic life. Being Dean is quite exciting but crowds out the deep reflection required to teach, research, and write very well. And it takes a heavy commitment of time and energy to advancing the school–I’ve averaged 145 days out of town per year for the past nine years.

  • Ten years is a nice round number—think of it as the “Goldilocks” tenure, long enough to have an impact, and short enough to ensure fresh perspective with some regularity. In comparison, the median tenure of a business school dean is about four years—this is not long enough to drive real change in academia. And what a ten years it will have been: Global Financial Crisis, Great Recession, the events of June 2012, Capital Campaign, EMBA, GEMBA, diversity, sustainability, globalization, MOOCs, and more.

  • Darden houses impressive talent and has good depth of leadership. The rising faculty and staff leaders are stars. I’m confident that they will sustain Darden’s momentum and good direction.

In view of these, and of the fact that I’ll be 65 in October, this next year seems like a good pivot point in my own journey. It’s been a deep honor and very fulfilling to serve Darden for a while as Dean.

Onward and upward!

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14 Responses to My Transition to Come: Dean to Professor

  1. Dr P J Clark says:

    Congratulations on a distinguished tenure. Dr. Peter J. Clark UCL MS&I, London (Masterminding the Deal, 2013)

  2. Vickie Hayashigatani says:

    Dean Bruner, thank you for your service and dedication to Darden.

  3. Steve Bruner says:

    I am happy for you, and for Darden. Indeed, you’ve accomplished a lot in ten years as a voice in the choir. Here’s to many years of deep reflection ahead.

  4. Keith Perry says:

    Dean Bruner,

    A loss and a gain (and still moving, which is the only option).
    It’s great to hear that you’re re-engaging directly as faculty. You have, at least from my left-coast perspective, been fantastic both in expanding Darden’s impact in entrepreneurialism in the school and in the community, and as well have mad great strides in expanding Darden’s reach out here and in Asia. Darden has always been a world-class institution, and you’ve done well to bring that out to the world.

    Cheers, with many happy returns,


  5. George Tsetsekos says:

    You always inspired me with your great work as Dean and I was checking regularly on your activities thinking that I can find new ideas to apply to my school at LeBow. In addition, as a finance colleague I had admired the way you wrote cases and your research. Yes, 10 years is a good time to make an impact and you did. I am letting you know that the transition will not be easy but your love for teaching and research will make it smooth
    Wishing you the best in the next chapter of your journey

  6. Karan Capoor says:

    Dean Bruner,

    You have served the school and community with the highest level of integrity, leadership and vision. You will be sorely missed in the role of Dean, but the students will get to know first-hand what a great teacher you are.

    Best wishes,

    (Mr.) Karan Capoor
    Class of 1999

  7. Greetings Bob,
    You have had a great impact at Darden and will continue to after your promotion 🙂 next year! I have enjoyed our visits and remain hopeful Darden and AIM can work together in some capacity. Regarding Executive DBA, we are working to hire an expert to help us, a firmer Harvard DBA director.

    Best wishes on the transition and I look forward to future contact.

    Steven J. DeKrey
    Asian Institute of Management

  8. Dot Kelly says:


    It’s been a great ten years for the Darden community under your leadership. You’ve led us admirably and we are all grateful for your service–including all those nights in hotels and airplanes.

    Dot Kelly
    Darden ’92

  9. Divyaksh Kapur says:

    Dean Bruner:

    Thanks a lot for your statesmanship over the last 9 years. Still remember your inspiring words: “high touch, high tone, and high octane” . TJ would have been proud of you!

    Darden ’08

  10. David Martin says:

    Dean Bruner,

    As a Batten Fellow (courtesy of your collaboration years ago) and as a member of the Charlottesville business community, I want to express my deep appreciation for your leadership as Dean and want to offer my resounding endorsement to your resurgence in the academy as a teacher and researcher. My experience of both of those roles is among my finest Darden reflections and I’m thrilled for you and the Business School.

    Warmest regards,


  11. L. Almeida says:

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us Dean Bruner. You will be missed and we wish you the best on the great things ahead of you at Darden and in your personal life. Thank you for all the service you have provided.

  12. Congratulations on a terrific run, Dean Bruner!

    Joseph Williams, Dean
    Seattle Pacific University School of Busienss and Economics

  13. Garry Nakamanonov says:

    Dean Bruner,

    Congratulations on your successes and wishing you the best in your future pursuits.


  14. john says:

    I want to express my deep appreciation for your leadership as dean

    Best wishes, John

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