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Uva’s Darden School Names Head Of $84 Million Entrepreneurial Center

September 6, 2000 -- The University of Virginia’s graduate business school, The Darden School, today announced the appointment of Distinguished Professor of Business Administration Robert F. Bruner as Executive Director of the Batten Institute.

Bruner’s selection caps an extensive search for an individual to head the Batten Institute, which has an $84 million endowment and focuses on how leaders create, transform, and add new value to organizations. The University of Virginia, named recently by U.S. News & World Report as the nation’s top public university, in 1999 honored Bruner with the Harrison Award, the University’s most prestigious award for teaching excellence. A consultant to dozens of global organizations and the author of more than 250 case studies--many focusing on corporate finance and corporate transformation--Bruner will assume his new responsibilities immediately.

Less than a year ago, Virginia entrepreneur Frank Batten Sr. donated $60 million to Darden, challenging the school to become a preeminent source of knowledge and insight on business transformations driven by technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The focal point of his gift, the largest ever to a business school, is the Batten Institute.

"In the very near future, the people developed at Darden with the benefit of the Batten Institute programs will be transforming entire industries," Darden Dean, Edward A. Snyder, said. "That’s a reasonable objective when you bring together an $84 million endowment, one of the country’s leading educators and analysts in the area of value creation, and a curriculum focused on innovation."

Since its inception in January, the Institute has launched the Progressive Incubator, which supports students in bringing business plans to market; expanded Darden’s digital pedagogy; and started work toward the establishment of an on-line business journal and an on-line panel of business executives offering insight on significant marketplace issues. In addition, the Institute has attracted faculty members to Darden and brought the leading journal on entrepreneurship to the school. It has held conferences on diversity, supply chain management, and mergers and acquisitions, and hosted thought-leaders as Batten Fellows.

The Batten Institute is also the focal point of Darden’s presence in the Northern Virginia high-technology corridor. Through its Reston location, the Institute supports case-writing activities, serves as a base of operations for numerous student business projects undertaken for corporate clients, and will offer education programs to the region’s executives.

Bruner joined the Darden faculty in 1982. Holding both M.B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University, his credentials include work as a venture capital analyst and advisor to entrepreneurial firms. Over the course of his academic career, he has earned more than ten awards from faculty and students for teaching and six awards and recognitions for case writing. For 20 years he has researched mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance.

In accepting the position, Bruner said he intends to attain Frank Batten’s goal for the Institute of integrating both thought leadership and educational leadership. He used the words of Mohandas Gandhi to outline his approach to his new position: "You must live the change you want to see."

He also discussed his plan to draw on Darden students, faculty, staff, corporate partners, University of Virginia partners, and management practitioners to join him in leading the Institute. Bruner acknowledged the leadership and contributions of Wendell E. Dunn, III, who will continue with the Batten Institute. "Wendell has been, and will continue to be, an invaluable resource to the Institute," Bruner said.

Bruner concluded by noting the urgency the Institute must demonstrate in implementing its programs. "Excellence is a moving target," he said. "Let’s get to work."

Snyder quoted Batten as saying, "We could look for a long time inside and outside Darden and not find anyone better." Snyder added, "Most here know of Bob’s legendary talents in teaching, research, and case writing. A few words always come to mind when people think about Bob Bruner: quality, productivity, and respect."

Contact: Chris Allerton, (804) 924-7673

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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