Two-Day Batten School Conference Will Dedicate New Garrett Hall Home

October 14, 2011 — The University of Virginia's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will celebrate and officially dedicate its new Garrett Hall home  with two days of events Oct. 20-21.

The schedule features a Conference on Leadership and Public Policy, with a luncheon keynote address by U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.); a gala dinner; the second annual Batten Ball; and the inaugural on-Grounds meeting of the recently created 26-member Batten School advisory board.

"This will be largest and most ambitious set of events that the Batten School has hosted to date," Dean Harry Harding said.

At the Oct. 20 dinner, U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan and members of the Board of Visitors will officially dedicate Garrett Hall and unveil a portrait of Frank Batten Sr., the late Landmark Communications chairman and 1950 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences whose $100 million gift created the Batten School in 2007. 

"The Batten School is our youngest school, but it is focused on one of the oldest goals of the University and draws on a rich tradition that extends back to the founding ideals expressed by Jefferson 200 years ago," Sullivan said. "He believed that the University should teach 'useful knowledge' to its students to equip them for the leadership of our democracy. The remarkable generosity of Frank Batten Sr. has allowed us to carry forward and fulfill Mr. Jefferson's vision as we prepare the next generation of leaders to help guide our nation."

Harding added, "As a young school, we have the opportunity to learn from older schools' experience and best practices, and try new things with the energy of an entrepreneurial startup. That includes broadening our curriculum to go beyond the traditional public policy school focus on rigorous policy analysis. We've got leadership in our name and we believe leadership can be studied systematically and can be taught, so that those who wish to be leaders in various contexts can develop and hone their skills. Some people will develop leadership skills better than others, just as some athletes will excel more than others, but the quality of coaching always matters.

"In coming years we hope and expect to be pushing the whole field on teaching leadership. Batten is already a center for serious scholarly research on leadership, that draws on everything from social psychology laboratory experiments to insightful case studies of leadership, and our variety of approaches will be reflected in our Conference on Leadership and Public Policy."

The two-day conference, open to the public, will feature three panels, looking at leadership from three angles: the cognitive science and psychology of leadership; the limitations and possibilities of transformational leadership; and the ever-more-important role of non-governmental organizations in public policy, said Gerald Warburg, assistant dean for external affairs and professor of public policy. Each panel features invited guests who are national experts, moderated by a Batten School professor with expertise on the panel's topic. (The full conference schedule and details are below.)

Batten School professor Benjamin Converse, who teaches the psychology of leadership, will moderate a panel with three invited scholars who will talk about their cutting-edge research on women in leadership, on influencing moral behavior, and on persuasion.

"Leadership is about influencing people, and psychology research has a lot to tell us about understanding how people actually think and behave, what drives behavior, and what tactics of influence will be effective under what conditions," Converse said. "Batten classes built around this empirical knowledge provide our students the tools to be more effective leaders, and this panel will discuss the frontiers of our empirical knowledge."

The celebration will be capped with Webb's reflections on leadership, drawing on his diverse experience as a decorated Marine platoon leader in Vietnam, secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, bestselling author of nine books, Emmy-award winning journalist, and senator.

"Senator Webb has been a leader in many areas, as we hope that our students will be, moving from one sector of society to another," Warburg said. "He personally symbolizes a multi-faceted leadership career."

Students and alumni will have a prominent role in the celebrations, including the dinner, where two Batten alumni – former Batten class president Anna Draganova, now an associate at Deloitte Consulting in Washington, D.C., and Logan Pugh, assistant secretary of administration for Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell – will share what the school has meant to them.

"Batten alumni come away with world-class analytical skills, but what sets us apart is the ability to put those skills into practice and lead from day one," said Pugh, previewing his remarks. "Alumni and current students also share a commitment to the common good, to causes greater than ourselves."

Batten faculty and staff moved into Garrett Hall in August, following completion of a nearly two-year, $12.2 million renovation that restored some of its former grandeur, including a central Great Hall originally known as the Commons, a central dining hall or refectory built in 1909.

The building was designed by McKim, Mead and White, the storied New York City architecture firm that designed the rebuilt Rotunda following the 1895 fire, as well as Old Cabell, Cocke and Rouss halls and Carr's Hill, the president's residence.

Garrett's central location on Grounds, at the corner of the original Academical Village, symbolizes the Batten School's interconnectedness with the rest of the University and the broader surrounding community, in accordance with Frank Batten's wishes, Harding said.

"Garrett's Great Hall is now one of the most spectacular public spaces at U.Va.," Harding said. With room to seat 200, the hall will be used for wide range of public events as part of Batten's mission to connect with the larger University and surrounding Charlottesville community.

The school has also built bonds with the rest of the University, Harding said, by working with five other U.Va. schools, including law and business, to create five dual-degree programs and by recruiting a number of faculty members who hold appointments at other U.Va. schools and institutes.

The celebration is also an opportunity to thank those responsible for the creation of the Batten School and the renovation of Garrett Hall, Harding said. "Lots of people have been involved, from the Batten family to the architects and designers and construction teams.

"Our society requires an almost inexhaustible supply of leaders," Harding said. "We need them not just at the top of government and organizations, but throughout society at all levels, from the family and neighborhood to the state and nation. As we tell our students, policy is everywhere; you can lead from anywhere."

Schedule for Conference on Leadership and Public Policy:

• Partnering for the Future: How Innovative Leadership Can Bring About Transformative Change in Global Development
Oct. 20, 4-5:30 p.m., Jefferson Hall, West Range
Speakers: Nicole Bates, a senior program officer for global health policy and advocacy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Sam Worthington, president of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations, with more than 190 member organizations.
Moderator: Batten School professor Christine Mahoney

• The Limitations and Possibilities of Transformational Leadership
Oct. 21, 8:45-10:15 a.m., Harrison Institute Auditorium
Speakers: Bruce Miroff, a Collins Fellow and a professor of political science at the State University of New York, Albany; Stephen Skowronek, the Pelatiah Perit Professor of Political and Social Science at Yale University.
Moderator: Batten School associate dean and professor Eric Patashnik

• The New Science of Leadership: Judgment, Negotiation and Decision Making
Oct. 21, 10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Harrison Institute Auditorium
Speakers: Hannah Riley Bowles, associate professor of public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School; Francesca Gino, associate professor at the Harvard Business School; Noah Goldstein, assistant professor of human resources and organizational behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management.
Moderator: Batten School professor Benjamin Converse

— By Brevy Cannon

Media Contact

H. Brevy Cannon

Media Relations Associate Office of University Communications