The University of Virginia will host two graduation ceremonies on Finals Weekend, to be held May 15-17. And that will mean two featured speakers.
On Saturday, May 16, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will address graduates of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. On Sunday, May 17, Robert F. Bruner, the outgoing dean of U.Va.’s Darden School of Business, will speak to graduates of the University’s other 10 schools, plus the first graduates from U.Va.’s Data Science Institute.
Ongoing renovations to the University’s Rotunda and the growing crowds that have flocked to Final Exercises in recent years made it impossible for the University to continue its one-ceremony tradition. Construction fences encroach on spectator areas on the north end of the Lawn and will prevent the graduation procession from forming on the Rotunda’s north plaza.
Students scheduled to graduate in 2015 and later voted last spring to split graduation into two ceremonies rather than move it to another location or further limit the number of guest tickets available per student.
University officials expect approximately 6,500 students to complete degree requirements during the current academic year and graduate in May.
Saturday, May 16 Speaker: Gov. Terry McAuliffe
“We are delighted that Governor McAuliffe will speak at Final Exercises,” U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said. “This is a continuation of the University’s long-standing tradition of inviting Virginia’s governor to speak at a Finals ceremony during his four-year term in office. The governor’s participation will make the day even more meaningful for our students and families.”
Sworn in as Virginia’s 72nd governor in January, McAuliffe has worked to grow and diversify Virginia’s economy and encourage more businesses across the nation and globe to locate in the commonwealth.
Previous Virginia governors with U.Va. ties have included University founder Thomas Jefferson; former U.Va. President Colgate Darden; and Gerald Baliles, director and CEO of U.Va.’s Miller Center.
Before entering politics, McAuliffe was a banker, real estate developer, home builder and Internet venture capitalist. In 1985, McAuliffe helped found the Federal City National Bank in Washington, D.C. In January 1988, the bank’s board elected McAuliffe chairman at age 30, making him the youngest elected chairman of a federally chartered bank in U.S. history.
McAuliffe’s memoir, “What a Party! My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators, and Other Wild Animals,” was a New York Times best seller.
He attended Catholic University and Georgetown Law School. He and his wife, Dorothy, have five children.
Sunday, May 17 Speaker: Darden Dean Robert F. Bruner
Bruner joined the U.Va. faculty in 1982 and became the eighth dean of the Darden School in 2005. In April, he announced he would step down at the end of the current academic year after a successful tenure that included being named 2011 “Dean of the Year” by CNN Money/Fortune and Poets and Quants, a media outlet dedicated to graduate business education.
“Bob Bruner’s impact on Darden has been transformational and will carry the school forward,” Sullivan said when Bruner announced his intent to step down as dean at the end of his current term. “Darden is recognized worldwide for student satisfaction and for delivering the best graduate business education experience. Bob and his team have achieved this reputation through curricular innovations, the launch of two new formats of the Darden MBA, an unrelenting search for top faculty and student talent, and attention to every detail of the academic experience.”
Under Bruner’s leadership, Darden is consistently listed among the world’s best graduate business schools. In early October, The Economist magazine ranked Darden’s M.B.A. program No. 3 in the world.
Among business school deans, Bruner is recognized as a pioneer in the use of social media. He started his popular and wide-ranging Dean’s Blogin 2006 and is a prolific tweeter. He has encouraged leading-edge efforts in technology at Darden, including the school’s 2009 collaboration with Amazon to pilot e-readers in the classroom and the 2013 delivery of several massive open online courses on the Coursera platform. More than 600,000 people registered for the courses.
An expert in finance and management, Bruner has received numerous awards for teaching, research and case writing. Six times, Darden students selected him as a faculty marshal in recognition of his teaching excellence; five times he was cited for teaching excellence in the biannual “BusinessWeek Guide to the Best Business Schools.” In 1995, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia gave him its Outstanding Faculty Award.
Born in Chicago and raised in Wisconsin, Bruner received a B.A. from Yale University and the MBA and DBA degrees from Harvard University. A master of the case study classroom, he teaches and conducts research in finance and management and has served as a visiting professor at the international graduate business school INSEAD, at IESE, the graduate business school of the University of Navarra, and at Columbia University business schools. He has written or co-written some 300 case studies and several books, including “Deals From Hell,” “Applied Mergers and Acquisitions,” “Case Studies in Finance” and “The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned From the Market’s Perfect Storm.”
Bruner and his wife, Bobbie, have two sons.
After a year’s sabbatical, Bruner will return to the classroom in 2016.