Dean's Remarks 2021 Graduation

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2021 Graduation Remarks

When the World Calls, How Will You Respond?

Thank you! I’m Darden’s Dean Scott Beardsley, and I want to pile on to what the faculty said to offer my deepest congratulations to you, graduates!

In the Darden tradition, I must start my remarks with a cold call. This question is for all of you graduates — from Darden, Law and McIntire — including McIntire undergraduates, who we hope will come to North Grounds someday! It’s even for your parents and loved ones, here and watching Livestream.

Here’s my question. Most of us have with us today a smartphone.

How many of you woke up with your smartphone today? Raise your hands.

OK, now how many of you feel that you spend way too much time with your device? Please, raise your hands!

Ah! Not surprising! I feel the same way.

So you might ask, ‘Scott, why are you talking to us about smartphones at graduation?’

There are several reasons.

Screen time around the world has skyrocketed as we have worked to remain connected though physically distanced. And technology is quickly changing the future of your work.

Another reason is that someday, I don’t know when, you might get a special call on your smartphone.

It might be the world calling.

And when it does, how will you respond?

Will you accept or decline the call?

This call will be one of the most important of your lifetime. This call will ask you, Darden graduates, as responsible leaders, to act on your values and dreams and to play your part in helping to change the world responsibly. 

This call could be serendipity knocking. A beautiful new relationship. A chance to learn. Are you open to something new and unexpected that was not part of the plan?

This call might ask you to step up – to see in tomorrow’s problems the opportunity to make a difference. It will likely require courage and making hard decisions with imperfect information.

In fact, it just might be your higher calling.

The core values you have learned at Darden and at UVA will guide you.

Here, you have learned honor and integrity. Your business ethics classes have taught you that business and society belong in the same sentence and the importance of all stakeholders. You have met new people and learned new things.

When that phone rings, follow your heart and let your values guide you. Build real relationships with people you can learn from. Pursue your purpose and say yes to meaningful work that fulfills you.

We have learned a lot over this past year, graduates. You have endured and are prepared for most anything. You have very worked hard to make it to this day.

Darden graduates, you are now alumni of the Darden School of Business, and your network of 17,000 alumni across 90 countries welcomes you.

The world, even the unknown, is calling.

And your faculty and I, we know that you are well-prepared to embrace the unknown and to push ‘accept.’

My sincere, heartfelt congratulations to you, your families and loved ones on your incredible achievement!!!

It’s now time for Darden student awards, and it’s my pleasure to introduce Senior Associate Dean Tom Steenburgh.

Dean's Full Address Video

View an Additional Graduation Message From The Dean

Dean Scott Beardsley discusses overcoming uncertainty and anxiety and celebrates the hard work, amazing accomplishments and indelible contributions of the Darden MBA Class of 2021.