The University of Virginia Darden School of Business has selected a very familiar face as its new executive director of admissions and financial aid with the appointment of Dawna Clarke, announced earlier this week. From 1990 to 2005, Clarke served in various leadership roles at the Darden School, including five years as admissions director and as director of alumni relations.
Clarke then moved on to serve as director of admissions at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College for 11 years. Clarke returns to Darden from mbaMission, where she recently served as chief MBA strategist and senior consultant.
“The Darden School community is thrilled that Dawna is rejoining our team,” said Darden Dean Scott Beardsley. “She has an incredible track record of finding and cultivating global talent and a passion for leadership in the field of admissions.”
“I am honored by the opportunity and excited to return to Darden,” said Clarke. “I believe deeply in Darden’s mission and values, and I look forward to bringing my experience and ideas for innovations to find and educate the next generation of business leaders from all over the world.”
“Admissions consulting — and walking side by side with 20 applicants applying to multiple top business schools — has been a formative experience that has provided me with new insights and ideas that I will bring to my new role at Darden, which I hope will positively impact both the selection process and the applicant experience,” said Clarke.
As executive director of admission and financial aid, Clarke will oversee the recruitment strategy for admission to the full-time MBA and the Executive MBA, which offers an intensive global format, the Global Executive MBA, and sections in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area.
She will also oversee Darden’s new Future Year Scholars program, a deferred admissions program for top undergraduate and fifth-year master’s students, and help grow cutting-edge dual degrees such as the MBA/Master of Science in Data Science program with UVA’s Data Science Institute.
Clarke will also drive the strategy to attract diverse demographic groups. During an award-winning stint at Tuck, the percentage of women increased from 25 percent in the class before her arrival to a record 44 percent of the class of 2018 and average GMAT scores reached 717.
“In addition to drawing praise for clear quantitative gains, Clarke was frequently lauded for her customer-centric approach to admissions,” said Ron Wilcox, Darden senior associate dean for degree programs.
Upon her departure from Tuck in 2016, industry publication Poets & Quants referenced three international awards she and her team received for best practices in MBA admissions.
Throughout her career in business education, she has interviewed several thousand business school applicants and reviewed tens of thousands of essays and recommendations. She has traveled frequently throughout Asia, Europe and Latin America, and she has a comprehensive knowledge of various international educational systems and multicultural issues.
Widely known and respected in the world of graduate business education, Clarke has served on multiple committees for the Graduate Management Admissions Council and the Educational Testing Service. She was also a member of the board of directors for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management for 17 years.
“In my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work for nine business school deans across three institutions,” Clarke said. “I am so impressed with the incredible, positive momentum that Scott Beardsley and his team have brought to Darden. I’m eager to be a part of this remarkable leadership team.”
Clarke will assume the role on October 15th.