History and Mission

Prepared for public life.

The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy was established by the University of Virginia in 2007 as part of its strategic plan and as an expression of its Jeffersonian heritage. The Batten School is the first new school to be established at the University since the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration was created in 1955.

The mission of the Batten School is to educate leaders from the social sciences and other fields who understand the responsibilities and opportunities of service to the public and can help bring about transformational change. The School, through its instructional, research, and outreach programs, contributes in important ways to public deliberation and enlightenment on the great domestic and international issues of our time. The Batten School trains students in critical leadership skills, and in the analytics and substance of policy. Its programs inspire students to act vigorously, effectively, and ethically on behalf of the common good. Faculty are committed to teaching the use of rigorous analysis, the subtle understanding of political, social and economic context, and the exercise of creative personal and organizational leadership to initiate change in an increasingly diverse world.

The School is made possible by a generous gift from the late Frank Batten, Sr., one of the University’s most loyal supporters. Batten was the retired chairman and CEO of Landmark Communications Inc. He was known for his keen interest in the areas of leadership, citizenship, and service to the public. In establishing his founding gift, Batten expressed his noble goals for the School and its students and graduates:

Never has there been a greater need for the University's most important product: enlightened and ethical leaders who leave Grounds prepared for public life--in their communities, in their professions, in the world at large.

In just a few short years, the Batten School has met impressive milestones, welcoming its first class of accelerated MPP students in August 2007.  This extraordinary cohort graduated in May 2009, boasting one of the highest employment-at-graduation rates among all UVa Schools. In July 2009, Harry Harding became the Batten School’s founding dean, bringing with him vast and invaluable experience as a former Dean and faculty member at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

The 2010-11 academic year saw the matriculation of the School's third class of accelerated MPP students, along with the debut of the School’s first collaborative research center, the Center on Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness.

The completion of the multi-million dollar renovation of Garrett Hall was completed in summer 2011. Given its significance and prominent location near Jefferson’s historic Lawn, it stands as a fittingly impressive home for the Batten School’s first class of two-year MPP students, who, along with the fourth class of accelerated MPP students, matriculated in August 2011.