One of the things that has always stood out for me at Darden is the strongly supportive attitude of the faculty, staff, and administration here. I’ve heard it said that in many ways Darden is no different from any other business functioning in the marketplace, and good businesses should have good customer service. It would be easy to say that there’s just a strong can-do “customer service” attitude here from which I, as a student customer, benefit. But I think that over-simplifies what’s actually going on at Darden. I don’t think that Darden’s staff members are simply good at or focused on customer service. I think – and their actions confirm – that Darden staff members really care about Darden’s students, both with respect to our lives at Darden and the experiences that we brought with us to grounds or that we head off to explore after graduation. They want us to enjoy our time at Darden, to succeed both here and in life, to relieve the burdens that they can so that we can focus instead on case prep/recruiting/family/etc. Yes, they’ve been tremendously helpful in keeping our facilities beautiful, resolving my occasional woes with the university’s central financial aid office, registering for classes (particularly when the law school basically just throws up its metaphorical hands with respect to that issue), putting together a brochure for a conference at break-neck speed, helping me navigate the minefields of recruiting, fixing my sandwich order with a smile even when I clearly filled out the form incorrectly, and constantly convincing my computer that it still has the will to live. And the list of ways in which I’ve benefitted from our amazing staff could go on and on. However, in my time at Darden, I’ve been truly astounded by the ways in which members of Darden’s staff have gone above and beyond even that which could be called giving their jobs 110%. The extent to which faculty open up their homes for various social functions with students (and to benefit various charitable causes) is often mentioned when students and alumni talk about their Darden experiences, but equally important to note is the willingness of staff members to stop you in the hall or to grab coffee or lunch (or sometimes even a glass of wine) to commiserate or celebrate or catch up or just to say “hello”.
The Darden student body does regularly award Outstanding Faculty and Friend of the Student Awards to recognize outstanding faculty and staff members. But yesterday, for the first time in virtually anyone’s memory, the Darden Student Association organized a Staff Appreciation Day through which students could show their appreciation on a more individual basis. Students made baked goods and set up a table in Café 67 where staff members could pick up a treat and receive a personal thank you. Students were also encouraged to stop and say thank you to staff members. [Big props to the DSA Exec Board for organizing this event!]
I know I didn’t say thank you enough yesterday (and I certainly didn’t get to see everyone who deserves my thanks), but I am definitely thankful. So “THANK YOU!” to any Darden staff members who may read this blog. You’ve been integral to making my Darden experience as wonderful as it’s been so far, and I’m sure you will continue to make my next 18 months wonderful, too.