There are so many incredible things happening at McIntire these days that it’s more difficult than ever to step away from all the excitement. But when I received an invitation to join UVA leadership in Valencia, Spain, in September, I couldn’t refuse the opportunity to attend such an important global and celebratory event marking the 40th anniversary of UVA’s longest-standing study-abroad program.
For the two days before I would head to Valencia, I was in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the Societal Impact Conference, hosted by global nonprofit association AACSB International, engaging in sessions on essential topics of social impact within business education, ranging from the application of AI to create societal good to developing sustainable businesses, and more. As an AACSB-accredited business school leader, I also attended the AACSB board meetings. Fortunately, I was able to have a casual dinner with local alumni in Copenhagen, as well.
After, I headed to Valencia to meet with my Commerce School colleagues Professor Peter Maillet, Executive Director for Global Strategy, and Darci Spuck, Director of Global Advancement, to hold important meetings with McIntire Global Advisory board (MGAB) members and to recognize UVA in Valencia’s achievements and support the University.
To celebrate UVA in Valencia’s 40-year anniversary and delve into the many outstanding opportunities in global education, we joined an esteemed group of University alumni, faculty, and leadership that included Provost Ian Baucom; Vice Provost for Global Affairs Stephen Mull; Director of the International Studies Office and Summer and Special Academic Programs Dudley Doane; College of Arts & Sciences Dean Christa Davis Acampora; School of Engineering & Applied Science Dean Jennifer West; founding faculty of the Valencia program and Spanish Professor Fernando Operé; and former Chairman of the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese and Spanish Professor Emeritus David Gies.
Along with board members, we met several McIntire alumni that participated in the Valencia program as students—some of the more than 500 Comm School alums who were part of the Valencia program during their time at UVA.
Thursday, September 28
That evening, we gathered with a great group of energized UVA alumni at the Only You Hotel to enjoy a welcoming cocktail. There, I had the pleasure of meeting with many alumni who studied abroad in Valencia as students, going back to the first UVA cohort to learn in this charming Mediterranean coastal city.
Friday, September 29
Friday began with a Dean’s Panel breakfast, hosted by Vice Provost Mull, to discuss global education, our School’s approach to growing experiences around the world, and the challenges our students face in participating.
As McIntire’s long-held view is that all business is global business, I explained how we integrate an inclusive and global mindset within our curriculum and how we continue to grow our partnerships with alumni and friends to support efforts to provide students a global perspective by studying outside of the U.S. on exchange and through our global immersion coursework. I shared how I have had the pleasure of joining our students on these travels (during J-term visits to Bangkok and Singapore), where I have seen firsthand how living, studying, and being part of life in other countries shape our thinking and behavior for the better.
Observing how our strategic initiatives aim to develop global citizens who can positively transform commerce and society on an international scale, I made sure to note that in addition to offering full-semester study abroad with our 18 partner schools, McIntire runs credit-bearing courses over J-term and spring break—during which we are often hosted by UVA alumni and friends.
At the Comm School, we believe exposure to global perspectives broadens our networks and deepens our appreciation for and access to the global community, and across all of our programs, we send nearly 400 students around the globe each year. These amazing learning experiences are transformational across a lifetime, as students come to understand the complexity of global issues and gain new perspectives to help solve society’s grand challenges.
We took part in a delicious paella lunch in El Palmar amongst the rice fields, as Valencia is the birthplace of the dish. Following the meal, we enjoyed a walking tour of Valencia’s Old Town that culminated in great conversation while enjoying tapas with McIntire board members, alumni and their spouses, as well as some UVA senior leadership in one of Valencia’s most breathtaking areas.
Saturday, September 30
We reserved the closing day in Valencia for a crucial set of meetings MGAB members—our valuable partners who help us to realize our global vision for the Commerce School.
We began our meeting with a welcome introduction from MGAB’s Chair, Max Gottschalk (McIntire ’95), Founding Partner & CEO of London-based Vedra Partners. Max, a highly engaged alumnus, continues to combine his business insight and innovation in sustainability with an unrelenting enthusiasm for helping the Comm School to advance our global initiatives. His presence and passion are always appreciated.
Turning to the specifics, I detailed future plans in a conversation with the Board before we invited former Ambassador Mull to speak with us. As the primary lead for UVA’s global portfolio in his role as Vice Provost of Global Affairs, Stephen shared his experience and measured views about institutional development and global partnerships, offering an informative discussion about how McIntire can benefit from and contribute to those critical areas of opportunity.
The Board then delved into other aspects of McIntire’s continued commitment to global initiatives, led by Professor Maillet, our Center for Global Commerce Director and recently appointed Executive Director for Global Strategy, who addressed the Board to introduce McIntire’s strategy for global vision, opportunities, and impact.
Over lunch, we talked about how that vision would play out in practice, and I led a conversation about how we will best develop global citizens who can transform commerce and society.
We then welcomed Provost Baucom to talk about UVA’s top priorities and how global alumni might support those initiatives.
The afternoon concluded with a conversation about next steps and what we could look forward to achieving as the School looks to implement a new strategic plan.
Our visit ended with a gala event at the City of Arts & Sciences’ cultural and architectural complex, at its enchanting Hemisfèric planetarium. Fittingly, due to its unique shape, this building, among the City’s “Twelve Treasures of the Kingdom of Spain” project launched in 2007, is known as the “eye of knowledge.” There, we enjoyed our final evening together, reflecting on all we had learned and what the University has accomplished in its four decades creating educational experiences and cultural connections and in Valencia.