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Darden School of Business announce leadership development partnership

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business will begin offering courses this spring as part of the new “Darden/UVa-Wise Partnership for Leadership Development.”

Through exploratory discussions with Southwest Virginia business leaders, the idea of a concentrated effort of high-level education was formed and cultivated in the Partnership for Leadership Development.

The joint venture between two U.Va. institutions – both founded in 1954 – will host an option of six key courses. Participants at companies in Southwest Virginia will select four courses to complete the full program and earn a Certificate in Leadership Development.

David Newkirk, Darden’s CEO for Executive Education, says the partnership is designed to bring together Darden's world-class executive education capabilities with UVa-Wise's deep relationships in Southwest Virginia.

“By helping develop the next generation of leadership, we hope to deliver on each institution's mission,” Newkirk said. “In Darden's case, ‘to improve society by developing principled leaders for the world of practical affairs,’ and The University of Virginia's College at Wise, serving as ‘an engine for economic growth.’ ”

Rooted in an expressed need for focus on and development of management skills, influence and strategic and functional acumen, participants can build an excellent learning portfolio through which they will grow and ultimately help their businesses and the region grow.

“This is a remarkable opportunity for the University to support the development of the business community in Southwest Virginia,” said UVa-Wise Chancellor David J. Prior. “Through our partnership with the Darden School, Southwest Virginia now has access to the highest level of executive training.”

The Darden/UVa-Wise Partnership will:

  • Strengthen UVa-Wise’s promise of management development and deepen relationships with their client organizations.
  • Connect Darden open-enrollment and custom programs to businesses and organizations in the region.

The initial course for the partnership, “Negotiating Success,” with faculty Sherwood Frey and Melissa Thomas-Hunt, will be delivered May 12-13. The second course option is “Finance for the Non-Financial Manager,” with faculty LuAnn Lynch and Mary Margaret Frank. This course will be offered Sept. 21-23.

Directors for the program are Shannon Blevins, director of economic development for UVa-Wise, and Darden’s Colin Winter and Susian Brooks.

For more information on the program, visit