The University of Virginia Darden School of Business has launched the Marjorie R. and Frank M. Sands Sr. Institute for Lifelong Learning and announced the first professors to receive Frank M. Sands Sr. Professorships, chairs made possible by the record-setting gift made by Sands (MBA ’63) in 2019.

Faculty support is a key tenet of Sands’ $68 million gift, which established the Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning and the Sands Professorship Fund, among other initiatives intended to fortify and grow Darden strengths in the area of innovation in pedagogy and delivery of transformational lifelong learning experiences — both in-person and virtually — particularly in new programs for the working professional outside of the full-time MBA. Amid global uncertainty and rapid changes in technology, reskilling throughout one’s life is critical to career and organizational advancement in the future. The Sands Institute intends to be a premier home for lifelong learning that meets the demands of a dynamic marketplace.

Frank M. Sands Sr. (MBA ’63)

First Sands Professors Are Leaders In and Out of the Classroom

At its September meeting, the UVA Board of Visitors approved the following appointments:

  • Professor Toni Irving as Frank M. Sands Sr. Professor of Practice in Business Administration. Irving, who joined the School ahead of the 2020–21 academic year, writes, teaches and consults on issues of leadership, nonprofit management and organizational behavior, cross-sector partnerships, social impact, corporate responsibility and business ethics. Most recently, Irving launched and led the social impact fund Get In Chicago.
  • Professor Lynn Isabella as Frank M. Sands Sr. Associate Professor of Business Administration. Isabella teaches courses in organizational behavior, leadership and change, and team interaction across Darden programs, including in the Executive MBA. She chairs the faculty program committee on executive education. Her research focuses on questions of leading change as a middle manager, developing one’s collaborative leadership abilities and understanding the mindsets that shape individual careers and propel organizational change.
  • Professor Paul Simko as Frank M. Sands Sr. Associate Professor of Business Administration. Simko teaches courses in accounting and financial statement analysis and previously led the Executive MBA program at Darden. His current research examines the incentives and consequences of earnings management and valuation issues pertaining to earnings volatility and growth.
  • Professor Scott Snell as Frank M. Sands Sr. Professor of Business Administration. Snell teaches courses in strategic management and consults internationally with senior executives to help their companies align strategy, capability and investments in talent and is the former senior associate dean for Executive Education at the Darden School.
  • Professor Kimberly Whitler as Frank M. Sands Sr. Associate Professor of Business Administration. Whitler, who teaches marketing strategy, marketing performance and brand management, is a prolific and highly regarded researcher and author. Her 2020 paper “Research in Marketing Strategy” received an award for the best paper published annually in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science.

“We’re thrilled to bestow endowed Sands professorships on these five world-class professors,” said Darden Dean Scott Beardsley. “They are leaders in and out of the classroom and further Frank Sands’ goal of bolstering excellence and innovation in teaching at the Darden School. We look forward to announcing several other new professorships in the year to come to support degree program offerings for the working professional.”

Gift Begins to Enhance Instructional Delivery Options, Darden Grounds

Although still in its formative stages, the Sands gift, which matched with $14 million from UVA’s Bicentennial Professors Fund delivers $82 million in total impact, continues to propel instruction and learning on a number of dimensions. In addition to providing unprecedented support to faculty, the early returns on the gift can be seen in number of key areas:

  • Course innovation and digital enhancements — The Sands gift aims to further best practices for teaching in any medium, including the virtual setting, and encourages continued development of Darden’s portfolio of online courses. Darden Executive Education and Lifelong Learning has moved on the mandate in a number of ways, notably executing a virtual pivot in the face of the coronavirus pandemic in July, building new certificate offerings and launching a specialization in future-ready leadership, among other initial steps. Further, the School recently hired Anne Trumbore as executive director of digital for Executive Education and Lifelong Learning. A leader in developing new modes for high-impact educational offerings, Trumbore previously established and launched Wharton Online, after working as an early stage employee at Coursera, NovoEd and Stanford’s Online High School.
  • UVA Inn at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning — The Sands gift will enable the start of construction of the project, which will begin in 2021 and is named the Frank M. Sands Sr. UVA Inn at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning. The new facility will feature 199 hotel rooms; up to 12,000 square feet of meeting, innovation and learning space, including a ballroom of up to 6,500 square feet; a restaurant; a lounge; and a cafe. Contiguous to the facility will be outdoor green space and an arboretum. The 12-acre building site will feature outdoor classrooms; themed international gardens, specimen trees; a water feature; and trails that will connect the Darden Grounds, UVA School of Law Grounds and the adjacent Rivanna Trail. The Sands Institute will eventually be housed at the adjoining C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall, where renovation will soon begin as a result of the gift.
  • New Degree Offerings — The Sands Institute will help support Darden’s growth in new degree offerings for the working professional outside of the full-time MBA, ensuring that Darden’s transformational education experience and outstanding faculty teaching extends to all formats. Such programs include the Executive MBA, the Master of Science in business analytics (MSBA), and other degree formats under development.

The Sands gift will eventually produce research on best practices in lifelong learning, encompassing content areas, delivery methods, improving accessibility and exploring the ability of lifelong learning to truly meet the needs of the future. The institute will explore ways to further engage Darden alumni in a lifelong learning relationship with the School, among other enhancements to the School’s capabilities.

“It’s thrilling to see the early impact of Frank Sands’ gift beginning to take shape,” said Ashley Williams, CEO and CLO of Darden Executive Education, Lifelong Learning and Non-Degree Programs, and leader of the Sands Institute. “We are excited to continue to unleash innovation in this space, making Darden an indispensable lifelong learning partner for professionals and organizations across the globe. In these unprecedented times, the need to accelerate lifelong learning to support the leaders of tomorrow to successfully lead in times of uncertainty and change has been further cemented.”

This post is a reprint of an article that appeared on The Darden Report news site.


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