goal for Darden:
Building values toward the best management education
for tomorrow's business leaders
interview with Dean Ted Snyder
year, Ted Snyder joined the University
as dean of the Darden Graduate
School of Business Administration -- and hit the ground running.
Although Snyder stepped into a program with a strong national
reputation, the competition is not standing still. Working with
all his constituents, from students and faculty to alumni and
business partners, Snyder aims to keep Darden at the forefront
of American business education.
Tell us a little bit about your professional career prior to Darden.
I was a member of the University of Michigan's faculty for 15
years. At Michigan I spent three years as the senior associate
dean at the Graduate School of Business. I've also had the benefit
of some extraordinary experiences, both with the Justice Department
in Washington and in establishing the Davidson Institute at Michigan.
I did my post-doctoral work on mergers and antitrust matters.
With the institute, I helped to develop corporate partnerships
in emerging markets, such as India, China, South America and Central
Europe. Both experiences provided me with terrific insight into
marketplace issues that are even more significant today.
You were at Justice during an interesting period, in the late
'70s, early '80s.
That's true. I still remember my first day on the job. I went
down the hall to get a soda and there was a hand-lettered sheet
of yellow paper on the door across from the soda machine. Very
modestly, it said, "U.S. vs. AT&T." Hardly descriptive
of the monumental changes the discussions behind that door would
bring to the marketplace. Ironically, AT&T is back in the local
calling business today.
Now that you've been dean for a little more than a year, what
are your impressions of Darden?
It's an intense but exciting place. Every day, I'm energized by
our faculty's broad grasp of relevant business issues, by the
passion I see for the educational process, by our collaboration
across disciplines. Our faculty really sets the tone for the school's
competitive edge -- our strong focus on solving business problems
and our determination to produce leaders who will create, lead
and inspire great organizations. We like to say that Darden is
about transformation, changing the way you think. It's very powerful
to be constantly surrounded by people who stretch the limits of
What type of students choose to attend Darden?
Very special ones. Our students see Darden as a great opportunity
for professional development. They thrive on being in an environment
where a great deal is expected of them. If you sit in on a class,
it's obvious everyone contributes. That's important when you consider
the diversity of our students, nearly 40 percent of whom are minorities
or live outside the U.S. This provides our educational environment
with a broad range of experiences, perspectives, values and interests.
II of the Darden expansion includes classroom pavilions.
What are your goals for Darden?
To provide the best management education programs in the world.
Now, there are several elements to that. You have to maintain
a strong, unyielding commitment to the overall professional development
of both students and executive education participants. You have
to exercise leadership on significant business issues. I think
you have to be a major player within the business school community
on setting those values that underpin high-quality management
education. You also have to earn recognition for what you're doing
among those outside the business school community -- in the corporate
world, for example, and in the media. That helps you build relationships
with corporate partners that are mutually beneficial and it helps
you to continually improve value-added relationships with alumni.
What are some of the business issues that require leadership today?
A. Over the past 16 months, we've gone through a process to answer
that question. Our faculty has identified six issues on which
Darden will deliver world-class expertise. These include how to
create effective senior management teams that are globally diverse,
the integration of merged companies that have different cultures
and operations, and managing the process of innovation. We're
also concentrating on a holistic approach to e-business, on how
companies should use strategic alliances to become more efficient,
and on the impact that the environment and sustainability are
having on the ability of companies to serve world markets.
What's your view of the relationship between Darden and U.Va.?
That it needs to be very strong. We recently added Bill McDonough
[former U.Va. Architecture School dean] to our faculty. I'm working
with several colleagues around the University on next month's
e-summit, which will bring many of our nation's most important
Internet business leaders together at U.Va. Darden's at the intersection
of business and academics, and I hope we'll be able to offer unique
ideas and insights to the University because of that. By the same
token, U.Va. has enormous resources and strengths and a premier
reputation from which we can benefit.
What are Darden's greatest challenges?
We have to raise Darden's visibility and establish the school
as a leader in what I call the broader knowledge industry. That
means not just competing with other business schools but positioning
us with external audiences as a source of great knowledge and
expertise on major business issues.
Q. What's the status of the Campaign for Darden?
We've exceeded our $100 million goal and are moving ahead with
Phase II of our development plans. The improvements include new
classrooms, faculty offices and an auditorium, all of which will
allow us to continue to develop our MBA and executive education
programs. We'll be able to have more special events and conferences
at the school as well as greater MBA class interaction. These
improvements are critical to our ability to remain successful
in a highly competitive environment.
How would you characterize the alumni?
Extremely supportive of the school. You have to remember we're
still a young school and half of our alumni have graduated since
1987. We're working hard to build on our relationship with alums.
We need their help in finding our next group of MBAs. There are
240,000 people right now thinking about attending MBA programs.
We want the right 240 to come to Darden. We want alumni to send
people to our executive education programs. Alumni also are helping
us to stay focused on the right business issues and returning
to offer their wisdom and perspective. We've also established
a new program, Alumni Career Services.
What does this cost and who is it for?
It's a free service spanning the entire career development spectrum,
everyone from the person making his first job change to someone
well down the career path who wants to make a career change or
start a new business. Our research indicates that changing jobs
every two years is the national norm. It's our intent that the
support services and counseling we're providing will help to make
those transitions very rewarding.
Any time for teaching?
Well, not much, but last year I supervised a group of students
on a special project on how technology can be used to improve
service to customers.
What do you like about Charlottesville?
It sure beats Ann Arbor in December. Seriously, I was surprised
by how quickly one becomes awed by the history of this place.
It does give you a sense of being privileged to experience what
few others in the country can imagine. The people are magnificent,
with strong roots, a tremendous mix of experiences, interests
and talent. A great place.