Class Agent Spotlight: Brian Cowan

brian cowan headshot

Brian Cowan (MBA '91)

Why did you become a class agent?
Because I wanted to help make a difference by giving back to Darden, help the School with its fundraising goals and connect with my fellow classmates.  

Why is giving back to Darden important to you?
Because Darden gave so much to me. The School made such a huge difference in my life in terms of skills I learned, provided a lifelong family of friends, not to mention meeting my wife, Connie Hallquist (MBA '91).  

How long have you been a class agent?
Ten years.  

What advice would you offer a new class agent?
Commit to giving your best effort. Set your goals high in terms of class participation percentage and total dollars raised, roll up your sleeves and translate these goals into an action plan to achieve. 

Why do you give to the Darden Annual Fund?
In addition to giving back to and providing financial support to Darden, to walk the class agent talk. Namely, setting an example of giving, as it would not be fair to ask other classmates to give to the Annual Fund, and not do so myself. 

What has been your most successful fundraising strategy?
Persistence. Make the ask and follow up. Reach out personally and individually to your classmates by e-mail and phone. And thank them afterward, no matter the size of gift. 

What challenges have you overcome as a fundraising volunteer?
Work and family conflicts. Stagnant economy not conducive to discretionary spending and donations.  

How do you talk to your classmates about giving?
You gotta believe in it yourself first, and be prepared how to answer the question, "Why give to Darden, it is not a charity?" I talk about the difference that giving back to Darden can make in terms of financial success for the School, and how Darden makes a difference in terms of the leaders it grows that can make a difference in the world. Also, I encourage classmates to help keep their brand name strong by supporting the School, and that alumni "connectedness is a metric that is measured as part of Business School rankings.  

What have you found is the best way to stay connected with your classmates?
Through a variety of networking tools including LinkedIn, Facebook, Washington, D.C., chapter events and reunions. Not to mention phone calls and e-mails.  

Why did you choose Darden?
Because of its reputation and case study methodology.  

What is one word to describe your Darden experience?

What is your greatest memory from Darden?
My study team, which is like my second family. 

Which Darden professor influenced you the most?
Professor Bob Landel — after attending an Executive Education Course at Darden, he was a reference and advocate for me to return for the full-time MBA Program. 

Tell us about your last Reunion experience.
Outstanding and lots of fun! It was so nice to see so many of my friends from school, catch up and play over the weekend. Everyone looked great and is doing so well, it made me so proud that I went to Darden. The weekend flew by, and I wish I could spend more time with everyone. I served on our Reunion Committee, which made the event even more special, and I can’t wait until the next one!  

What sets Darden apart from other graduate business schools?
The quality of the professors, the case study methodology and the strength of its alumni network. 

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If you wish to volunteer as a class agent or have questions about ways to volunteer for Darden, please contact us at

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