Dec. 10, 1999-Jan. 13, 2000
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Entrepreneurial spirit continues to feed Frank Batten's success

Largest gift ever to a graduate business school
Alumnus Frank Batten Sr. gives $60 million to Darden for entrepreneurial institute

By Phillip Giaramita

The Darden Graduate School of Business Administration has received the largest gift ever contributed to a business school. The $60 million gift is from University alumnus Frank Batten Sr., the retired chairman of Landmark Communications Inc., an international media company whose broad holdings in electronic and print media include The Weather Channel in Atlanta and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.

Announced today by Darden School Dean Edward A. Snyder, Batten's gift propelled the Campaign for the University beyond its $1 billion goal. The Batten gift brings Darden's campaign total to $182 million, well above its goal of $100 million, and increases the school's endowment by 37 percent.

Benefitting Darden's programs in entrepreneurial leadership, Batten's gift will have far-reaching economic impact in the United States and abroad, Snyder said. "It provides the resources to allow the school to be a powerful agent for the development of new sources and methods of value creation."

The foundational center of those resources will be the Batten Institute, which becomes operational Jan. 1. The Institute succeeds the Batten Center, established early in the campaign with a $13.5 million challenge gift from Batten and his family, and will build on its successes. Funds from the gift already have been earmarked for the following:

five new endowed professorships,

  • a 60 percent increase in endowed scholarship resources,

  • a fellows program to bring corporate executives to the school, and

  • a venture capital fund to allow students and faculty to test entrepreneurial principles in real-world situations.

Darden also will create an office in Northern Virginia that will offer a broad array of programs to entrepreneurial firms a region that Snyder calls "the nation's hotbed of innovation."

A 1950 graduate of the University's College of Arts and Sciences and a long-time benefactor of the Darden School, Batten said his aim in making this gift is "to challenge and enable Darden to become a global leader in the new entrepreneurial economy."

"Entrepreneurs in firms both large and small are the drivers of innovation and economic growth, and they are providing America with a powerful competitive advantage," Batten observed. "Darden now has the resources to become a world-class educator and knowledge resource for the entrepreneurial economy. Thomas Jefferson, himself an inventor and entrepreneur, would have insisted on nothing less."

Pointing out that new businesses are creating more than a million jobs a year and that the nation will set a record of more than $50 billion in initial public offerings in 1999, Snyder said the region stretching from Baltimore to Charlotte, N.C., is superbly positioned to be the spine of the nation's most intense entrepreneurial activity.

Charlottesville "should be its heart," he said. "We can do this by leveraging Darden's leadership on such transformational business issues as diversity, innovation, e-business, strategic alliances and sustainability, and by tapping the expertise resident in other schools throughout the University."

The new Batten Institute will set out to multiply the achievements of the Batten Center, including the Charlottesville Venture Forum as well as other similar programs that bring together entrepreneurs and venture capital firms. The Center also publishes the Journal of Business Venturing, an authoritative research journal that focuses on the fields of entrepreneurship, new business development, technology and innovation.

"It is fitting that the University has reached its milestone as the result of such a remarkable gift from Frank Batten," said U.Va. President John T. Casteen III. "Our campaign had an historic beginning -- the Clifton Waller Barrett library of American rare books and manuscripts -- that established the University as a premier center for the study of American literature. We have surpassed the $1 billion mark with Mr. Batten's equally revolutionary endowment that will recast business education. We are deeply grateful for Mr. Batten's vision, his leadership and this extraordinary vote of confidence in our faculty and in our students."

Snyder said Darden will begin an international search for a leader of the Batten Institute, who will work with the "outstanding team already in place." The institute's board of directors will include Batten's son, Frank Batten Jr., an '84 Darden graduate and current chair of Landmark Communications.


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