The Darden Curriculum: Making a positive Net Impact through Darden Business Projects

I’ve just returned to Charlottesville after spending a few days in San Francisco, CA. Every day I took a walk along the bay, looking out over Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, through two national parks. Sounds like vacation right? Actually, I was working on my Darden Business Project.

Second year students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of Darden Business Projects (DBPs) including venturing, case development and consulting ( This spring I’m working on a consulting DBP with the National Park Service creating a business plan for the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Association (, the not-for-profit cooperating association for the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park ( The purpose of cooperating associations in the National Park Service is to support the interpretive, educational, historical and scientific activities of a park. This mission can be achieved through service of an effective bookstore that is enjoyed and appreciated by the public, financial and operational support of park programs and staff, and community education and outreach. The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Association operates a retail outlet on Fisherman’s Wharf and assists the Park in running the popular Age of Sail program, an educational outreach program which encourages students to develop self-confidence and self-reliance, which in turn fosters a sense of responsibility for themselves, their shipmates, and their community.

I’m responsible for developing a successful, sustainable business model for the Association which will benefit the not-for-profit organization, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, the local San Francisco Community and visitors to the region. Darden’s mission is to develop leaders in the world of practical affairs, and this DBP is a great way to make a significant impact on the future of the San Francisco Maritime community.

-Patty F.


February 16, 2009 at 11:15 pm Leave a comment

We’ve updated our website

Net Impact started the school year with the best of intentions.  Our goal was to communicate regularly with our large stakeholder network at Darden, at UVA, in the Charlottesville community, and beyond.  We looked for the “right” tools.  There are many from which to choose.  To communicate broadly, we created this blog linked to our website.  Internal to Darden we have a portal, a weekly e-newsletter called the Groundskeeper, our school paper, the Cold Call Chronicle, and of course, word of mouth.  We have relied mainly on the latter, and realized we just weren’t getting the job done after receiving some constructive criticism last week.

To remedy the situation, we’ve worked diligently this week to update the content and format of our website.  In the course of creating and gathering content, I’ve been amazed by what Net Impact members have accomplished this year.  Updating the site has given me the opportunity to celebrate the dedication, creativity and accomplishments of our members.

Please explore our updated site and discover for yourself how Net Impact is helping to shape our community.  We’d love to hear what you think.

-Patty F.

February 8, 2009 at 10:39 am Leave a comment

Carbon Footprint = Elephant? Uh?

To reduce our carbon footprint while attending Darden, a group of first years (FYs) and second years (SYs) have joined hands and launched the

Darden Carbon Footprint “DCF” Challenge

There are several activities that Darden FYs and SYs can participate in starting the week of November 17th, 2008 to earn the valuable Darden Cup points for their respective sections/show section pride, build awareness of our ever growing environmental footprint, and engage in an active dialogue on how we can best improve on how we live and how we learn at Darden.

Please comment on this blog posting and share your reactions/thoughts/suggestions!


November 17, 2008 at 1:40 pm Leave a comment

One plastic tarp, two Tyvex suits, and ten pairs of gloves.

I can hear the Jeopardy music going.

“What is a hardware store?” “No.”

“What is a cleaning supply distributor needing help to understand why its profit is decreasing and hoping an MBA student can apply Porter’s Five Forces?” “No.” Answered again by Alex Trebek.

“What is Darden’s First Trash Audit.” “Right answer!” Alex Trebek smiled.

My buddy Zoe Robins, a fellow Darden second year who completed her summer internship at the Conservation and Community Investment Forum in Bali, Indonesia, has led the first Darden Trash Audit on Thursday Oct 2nd, 2008.

I guess she has definitely brought back the beach weather with her. It was a beautiful sunny day with light breeze, Zoe and her fellow Darden classmates, dressed in the Tyvex suits, started digging into the trash bins for this pilot phase of a characterization of Darden’s waste streams. Watch out Executive MBA students and guests of Sponsorshall, all your trash bins were “sequestered” for this inaugural trash audit. Thank you for your cooperation!

The site of the trash audit was set on the asphalt between the Admissions Office and the main Darden parking garage. A dumpster was hauIed in and set right next to the path of “admission” to the Darden School, if you are considering the Boot Camp. The trash audit ran from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Below are some of the engaging conversations overheard at the trash audit site:

“It is great to be back with my own pack. We all have light figures, flexible physique, and transparent skin tone. I just don’t understand why I, the plastic bottle, was dumped into the trash can and not the recycling bin for recyling?” (Did you know that the majority of plastics, not just bottles, can be recycled at Darden – from lunch boxes to Ziplocs to plastic utensils and even drinking straws?)

“I guess it is easier to throw me into the trash.” The aluminum soda can replied. “Sometimes it is tough to find a recyle bin. Besides, how much can trash be worth anyway? The landfill might be a good place to visit since we will never decompose, right?” (Aluminum cans degrade over the course of 200-500 years. It takes approx. 700 years for a plastic bottle to break down.)

There were already couple of big bags full of plastic bottles and aluminum cans lying next to the path. As a member of Darden’s NetImpact Club, Zoe and many like-minded students have partnered closely with school administration to initiate many changes around the Darden School, including placing more recycle bins in the school building and helping to improve the learning experience by incorporating sustainable enterprise themes into the Darden curriculum. Thanks to another Darden student Bill Gray’s efforts, first year exams have been distributed securely via an on-line verification system since early 2008, thus reducing our carbon footprint while retaining the Darden tradition of “picking up your exam at 8 a.m. from the mailbox”.

Before I digress any further, here are some of the pictures from the 1st trash audit.

Here is the Darden School news article on the trash audit.

– Hugh L.

Note: I will update this post once some preliminary figures are available from this trash audit.

October 10, 2008 at 1:10 pm 1 comment

Why Blogging, Why Net Impact?

Another school year is underway at Darden, and the membership of Net Impact is hard at work planning a variety of activities to benefit students and the Charlottesville community.  Our chapter continues to grow, and each year a new set of club leaders strive to build upon past successes and ensure that the club remains relevant to the needs of our stakeholders.  We are a student-governed organization, but we work closely with faculty, administrators, and community partners to pursue our goal of making a positive impact on society through business.  

Our goal in creating this blog is to provide more information to current and prospective students about the activities of Net Impact at Darden.  We are reacting to a noticeable uptick in interest about Net Impact at Darden over the past 12 months.  During last year’s recruiting season, club members experienced a dramatic increase in information requests from prospective students relative to prior years.  Reports from the Career Development Center (Darden’s team of professionals who work with students to identify and target career opportunities) confirm this trend, as recent information sessions focusing on sustainability, non-profit, and other non-traditional MBA career opportunities were oversubscribed.  

As a club, we are working on a number of exciting initiatives for the year – including the organization of several forums, active participation in Darden’s planning efforts to make the school a leading institution for teaching sustainability curriculum (see Dean Brunner’s blog entry for more details), and focused efforts to help first and second year students identify and explore career opportunities where they can put their skills to work making a positive impact through business.  We’ll post more details about these activities via this blog over the coming months.  It is our goal to get the word out about what’s going on at Darden.  If you’re a prospective or current student looking for more information on a specific area of the club’s activities – this is a great forum for asking those questions.

Stay tuned for more…and thanks for checking in.  

-Will T.

September 21, 2008 at 2:50 am Leave a comment

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