Frank M. Sands Sr.’s $68 Million Gift is Largest in Darden History

Scott Beardsley, left, Frank M. Sands Sr. and President Jim Ryan sit at a table talking and laughing

Darden School of Business Dean Scott Beardsley, left, Frank M. Sands Sr. and President Jim Ryan celebrate the announcement of Sands’ $68 million gift to the school. (Photo by Andrew Shurtleff)

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business today announced the largest gift in its 64-year history. Sands Capital Management Founder Frank M. Sands Sr.’s new gift of $68 million will move the top-ranked business school forward in several key areas.

The new Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning will enable innovation in the degree, non-degree and online spaces. It will help retain and develop Darden’s world-class faculty. The gift will transform Darden’s educational facilities in Charlottesville.

Sands’ investment also honors his late wife, Marjorie R. Sands, a lifelong educator. 

“The Darden School was a transformational experience for me, and I am an ardent supporter of its mission and values,” said Sands, who earned a Darden MBA in 1963. “I am a big believer in lifelong learning, and that learning is enabled by great faculty. I hope this gift will inspire others to give and hope that the school will continue to be a true force for good in the free markets and broader world.”

Frank M. Sands has a long history of supporting the Darden School. His latest gift is the mot generous in Darden history.

Frank M. Sands has a long history of supporting the Darden School. His latest gift is the mot generous in Darden history. (Contributed photo)

Combined with University matching funds, Sands’ gift delivers $82 million in total impact. That includes the $68 million new gift and $14 million in matching funds from UVA’s Bicentennial Professors Fund, which was launched by the Board of Visitors in 2017 to help the University attract and retain top faculty and scholars.

Sands’ historic generosity comes as Darden and the University prepare for the public launch of Honor the Future, UVA’s $5 billion campaign.

“Frank M. Sands Sr. and his family are helping propel Darden forward as we enter our third century,” UVA President Jim Ryan said. “This historically generous gift will allow Darden to reach even more students and continue to lead the way in global business education. I am incredibly grateful to Frank and the entire Sands family for their vision and generosity.”

“We are humbled and grateful for the Sands’ longstanding support and this incredible new gift,” Darden Dean Scott Beardsley said. “Frank and his family continue the legacy of the school’s founders to propel the Darden School toward reaching the full potential of its mission to improve the world by inspiring responsible leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences.”

Sands’ gift, combined with matching funds from UVA, fortifies Darden’s strengths. The $82 million in funding will transform Darden in various ways:

  • A $20 million endowment for the Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning will determine best practices for teaching lifelong learners and working executives in both degree and non-degree programs, whether face-to-face in the classroom, online or through novel delivery methods. The gift includes an investment in Darden’s portfolio of online courses that will extend Darden’s reach and impact globally. A resource for the UVA community and beyond, the Sands Institute will empower the school’s faculty to redesign and innovate learning courses, curricula and programs – designed to meet leaders at all stages of their careers.
  • A $35 million Sands Professorship Fund, comprised of a $21 million donation from Sands plus $14 million in matching funds from the Bicentennial Professors Fund, will support the school’s faculty who deliver degree programs. The fund will support 12 new faculty chairs to bolster excellence and innovation in pedagogy and engagement with practice, including case writing and course and program development. Four distinguished professorship chairs will be created in honor of Darden professors with a legacy of exceptional teaching and commitment to the school:
  • John Forbes, the Darden School’s first professor, who died in 2018 at age 107;
  • Bob Landel, who teaches operations and retired this year after nearly 50 years of teaching;
  • Yiorgos Allayannis, a finance professor and master teacher of the case method; and
  • Dean Emeritus and University Professor Bob Bruner, who served as dean from 2005 to 2015.

An additional eight emerging scholar chairs, called the Sands Professorships, will enable Darden to recruit and develop top faculty as the next generation of master teachers and scholars.

  • A $20 million fund for the construction of the new UVA Inn at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning in Charlottesville will jumpstart the estimated $90 million project, which the school announced in April. Upon completion and pending Board of Visitors approval, the inn will be named the Frank M. Sands Sr. UVA Inn at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning. Construction of the projected 199-room hotel and conference center, which will feature a 5-acre arboretum and will connect Darden and UVA’s School of Law, is expected to begin in 2020.
  • A $7 million fund for the C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall will enable the renovation of the building, which is adjacent to today’s Inn at Darden and named in honor of Dean Emeritus C. Ray Smith who mentored Sands.

Sands’ gift builds on the joint donation of $5 million that he and his son, Frank Sands, who earned his Darden MBA in 1994, recently made to build Darden’s new campus in the Rosslyn district of Arlington – the UVA Darden Sands Family Grounds – which opened in March 2018.

The revitalized academic buildings on Darden’s North Grounds in Charlottesville, combined with the UVA Darden Sands Family Grounds in Rosslyn and the school’s growing capability to reach global audiences through online courses, give the school a powerful platform to meet the needs of learners worldwide. 

To announce and celebrate the gift, a ceremony in Sands’ honor was held at the Darden School on Thursday.

“Frank sets an incredible example for all Darden alumni,” said Elizabeth Weymouth, chair of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees and 1994 Darden MBA graduate. “We are inspired by his generosity and beyond grateful.”

Media Contact

Julie Daum

Darden School of Business