Centers & Initiatives

Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning

Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning

The Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning will be housed in a renovated C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall, once completed.

The Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning furthers the Darden mission by ensuring a commitment to unmatched instructional design and course outcomes and determining best practices for teaching lifelong learners and working executives in both degree and non-degree programs — in any medium.


Made possible by the historic gift from Sands Capital Founder Frank M. Sands Sr. (MBA ’63) in 2019, the Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning seeks to position Darden as a preeminent institution in providing transformational lifelong learning experiences for working professionals at all stages of their careers. The Institute will:

  • Enable innovation in the degree, non-degree and online spaces
  • Retain and develop the world’s best business school faculty
  • Transform Darden’s educational facilities on the Darden Grounds in Charlottesville 

Sands’ $68 million gift, the largest in the School’s history, was augmented by $14 million in funds from UVA’s Bicentennial Professorship Fund, delivering $82 million in total impact. The Sands Institute will empower Darden to reach learners across the globe and to continue to lead the way in business education.


Today, business people need to reskill throughout life. In the face of global uncertainty, rapid changes in technology and a dynamic marketplace, leaders must be able to continually grow, learn and develop to create positive change. It is my desire to share the possibilities of lifelong learning with Darden students for many years to come.

Frank M. Sands Sr.
(MBA '63)



The Sands Institute for Lifelong Learning establishes Darden at the forefront of innovation in pedagogy and delivery of transformational lifelong learning experiences, both face to face and virtually for working professionals and executives worldwide.

The Institute includes various components that push the Darden School and Executive Education and Lifelong Learning (EELL) forward: 

  • Faculty support and development includes the establishment of new faculty chairs to bolster excellence and innovation in pedagogy and engagement with practice, including case writing and course and program development. A $35 million Sands Professorship Fund, comprised of a $21 million donation from Sands plus $14 million in matching funds from the UVA Bicentennial Professor Funds, will support 12 faculty chairs.

    Four distinguished professorship chairs honor 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
    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. In October 2020, the School announced the first faculty appointments to the Sands Professorships.
  • Course development and digital innovation ensures that Darden courses delivered in multiple mediums are positioned to meet the needs of learners at all stages of their careers and to address the future of work. An investment in Darden’s portfolio of virtual courses will extend Darden’s reach and impact globally.

    In July 2020, in the wake of the pandemic, the Sands Institute helped power a virtual pivot in Executive Education and Lifelong Learning courses. New fall 2020 virtual courses include:

    Communication Strategies to Manage Crisis, Disruption and Transformation
    Transforming Business Processes
    Leading Mindfully: Leading Through Crisis
    Leading Virtual Teams Through Disruption
    Leading With Humanity: New Skills for the Digital Age
    Managing Individual and Organizational Change
    Negotiating Success: A Learning Laboratory
    Strategic Data Analytics for Competitive Advantage
    The Women’s Leadership Program

    A new MOOC on Coursera, Foundations of Diversity and Inclusion at Work Teachout, brings learners from around the world the latest scholarship and best practices on diversity, equity and inclusion, and organizational change.

    New virtual courses for spring 2021 include: Leading Digital Transformation, Digital Marketing and Strategy in the Digital Age.

    Several other exciting projects are underway and will be announced in early 2021.
  • Continued development of The Forum Hotel Kimpton at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and the C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall in Charlottesville will ensure Darden facilities for lifelong learning are world class. Offering an outstanding hospitality, education and conference experience is essential to Darden’s academic mission to deliver transformational learning experiences for Darden Executive Education and Lifelong Learning participants and degree program students.

    The Forum Hotel Kimpton, to open in spring 2023, will dramatically increase programming opportunities for lifelong learning. The Forum Hotel project includes a 198-room hotel and conference center and five-acre arboretum and botanical gardens that will connect Darden, UVA School of Law and the Rivanna trail.

    C. Ray Smith Alumni Hall, nestled between the inn, arboretum and botanical gardens, and Darden academic buildings, will undergo a renovation and house dramatically improved program space for Darden alumni engaged in lifelong learning, as well as the Sands Institute. Named in honor of one of the School’s great early leaders — Professor Emeritus C. Ray Smith (MBA ’58), who served as a mentor to thousands of students over more than 40 years — the renovation will activate the space in new and engaging ways.
  • Enhanced lifelong learning for alumni will ensure Darden remains a trusted partner to advance education and achieve goals for Darden alumni throughout their careers. In February 2020, EELL began a trial program to offer alumni participation in an available 2020 program at no cost. As the Sands Institute grows, it will also support research on instructional best practices and ways to further engage Darden alumni in lifelong learning.




Get Involved

Learn how Darden Executive Education and Lifelong Learning can help meet your individual and organizational goals through custom and open-enrollment courses, delivered via the medium (in-person, hybrid or virtual) that works best for the learner. 

Download the current program portfolio



As the world’s expectations of work and leadership evolve, leaders must continuously renew themselves through lifelong learning. The Sands Institute will fuel innovation and best practices for teaching lifelong learners and working professionals in both degree and non-degree programs — whether in the classroom, online or through novel delivery methods.

Ashley Williams
Darden Executive Education and Lifelong Learning CEO and Chief Learning Officer