Beyond the MBA Classroom: Building Goodness at UVA Darden

When you select an MBA program, you are not just choosing your learning environment, but are also committing to becoming part of a community. Each Thursday, we offer a window into life “beyond the MBA classroom” at a top business school.

Every spring, students at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business participate in Building Goodness in April, taking a day to partner with area contractors and builders to rehabilitate houses in the Charlottesville area for low-income, disabled and elderly homeowners. The preparations for “build day” take much of the school year. Students involved with the Building Goodness Foundation select the projects, coordinate the suppliers and volunteers, collect the necessary funds and apply for permits. In December, the organization sponsors a formal ball as a fundraiser for the event. The event features a live auction between a cocktail hour and a sit-down dinner and dancing.

A first-year student described Building Goodness in April in a February 2012 blog post as “a yearlong philanthropic undertaking aimed at strengthening the local community,” adding that the 2011 auction and ball raised $65,000. Past items up for auction have included an airplane ride for two over Charlottesville; vacation home stays in such places as Marcos Island (Florida), Lake Tahoe, Spain, and Puerto Rico; Dean Robert Bruner’s annual Monopoly game for four; and various other offers and services, such as guitar lessons, baked goods for a month, and designated driver responsibilities for a night. One student even offered to eat a dozen powdered donuts and then let the auction winner punch him in the stomach.

That same student blogger raved about the holiday ball, saying, “The Holiday Ball for BGiA [Building Goodness in April] has been hands-down one of my favorite events to date. Not only was it an incredible social event, but it was a friendly reminder that it’s not all about ‘increasing shareholder value.’”

For in-depth descriptions of social and community activities at UVA Darden and 15 other top MBA programs, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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