Interview with Bob Bruner, Dean of the Darden School of Business

Bob Bruner, Darden Dean

Bob Bruner is the Dean of the Darden School of Business. A faculty member since 1982 and winner of leading teaching awards at the University of Virginia, he teaches and conducts research in finance and management. 

Bruner has actively advanced Darden and the field of management education in new frontiers such as entrepreneurship, innovation, globalization and diversity. His book published in 2007, The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market’s Perfect Storm, with Sean D. Carr, attracted wide attention for its discussion of the underpinnings of financial crises.

A native of Chicago, Bruner received a B.A. from Yale University in 1971 and the M.B.A. and D.B.A. degrees from Harvard University in 1974 and 1982, respectively. Bruner is one of the world’s few blogging business school deans. He comments on life, business and current events in his popular “Dean’s Blog.”

Why do you teach by the case method?

As Bob Bruner explains in the video interview below, he believes that you learn best that which you teach yourself. We’ve all memorized something, and then quickly forgot what we’ve learned. But if you really toiled through learning something, the odds are it stuck with you. The difficult part is sorting things out on your own.

Bruner has seen case discussions around all kinds of things that were deemed to be mechanical or trivial, but that imparted a much deeper lesson around some logic or consequence. As he explains in the video interview below, so much in business depends on that deeper kind of learning. “Case studies are like little rehearsals, and in the course of two years at the Darden School students will discuss around 600 cases, and each case is like a rehearsal for some problem that you will address in the future. Every time you rehearse something it sticks deeper in your memory, and prepares you for the challenges you will face in the years to come.”

Bruner takes great pride in teaching carefully and well, and his goal has always been to develop as much fresh teaching material as possible. As he explains to colleagues at Darden, if every new case study you offer is always perfect, you aren’t stretching far enough and taking enough risks to challenge yourself to reach and get in front of problems and opportunities.

The Dean of the Darden School concludes by sharing what he might have become if had not become a business school professor.

 

For the full interview on Forbes, click here.

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