Professor Profiles: Gregory Fairchild, UVA’s Darden School of Business

Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a school, but the educational experience at the business school is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Each Wednesday, we profile a standout professor as identified by students. Today, we focus on Gregory B. Fairchild from the University of Virginia’s (UVA’s) Darden School of Business Administration.

As an academic director for Darden’s Institute for Business in Society, Gregory Fairchild (MBA ’92) (“Entrepreneurship” and “Business Strategy”) is charged with promoting ways in which business leadership can connect to broader societal issues. Fairchild specializes in entrepreneurship, business strategies and business ethics, and researches ways to create value in underserved areas. He currently funds this work with proceeds from a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Grant, which he received in 2007. In January 2010, the Financial Times named Fairchild the world’s top research professor in entrepreneurship, and in 2011, Virginia Business magazine included Fairchild in its “Top 25: People to Watch” feature.

Fairchild has received a number of teaching excellence awards at Darden, including recognition as an outstanding faculty member in 2008. One alumna we interviewed called Fairchild’s classes “exhilarating” and noted that he reviews his students’ resumes and can tie someone’s background to the topic of the day. She added that he is “scarily good” at cold calls and “won’t let go until he has dug all of the facts out of you.”

When we asked a recent alumnus about Fairchild, he lit up with excitement, calling the professor “amazing” and asserting that Fairchild “will be one of the leading professors at Darden.” In particular, this alumnus spoke highly of Fairchild’s co-taught “Business Ethics Through Literature” class, a reading course that draws on a wide range of books outside the usual scope of business writing. In addition to class meetings and regular preparations, students in this class meet once or twice a week in dinner groups that Fairchild arranges; he and the other professor rotate through these sessions. At the end of the course, students from both sections come together to cook a dinner for the class as a whole, which the professors host.

This alumnus added that it “was a great learning experience to have dinner with a group of students that I might not have connected with otherwise, discussing a book and our lives. Most of my Darden friends were from my section or my Learning Team, but suddenly I had a new group of friends from the fourth quarter of my second year. To spend that kind of time speaking about literature, not business, had a very unique effect.”

For more information about UVA Darden and 15 other top-ranked business schools, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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