The Batten School Welcomes the Class of 2024

The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy welcomes new students for Post-graduate MPPs, Accelerated MPPs, BAs and Minors. (Photo by John Robinson)
The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy welcomes new students for Post-graduate MPPs, Accelerated MPPs, BAs and Minors. (Photo by John Robinson)

The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy began a new academic year on August 23rd. In addition to welcoming a unique and diverse cohort, this year is also noteworthy as it marks the 15th anniversary of the Batten School’s innovative research and teaching programs that integrate leadership and public policy for the common good.

The incoming class arrived on Grounds with enthusiasm, bringing an eclectic range of experiences and perspectives. It was an exuberant kick-off as Garrett Hall was busy with activity, anniversary celebrations and warm conversations.

Beginning their post-graduate education with the Batten School, 98 Master of Public Policy students entered the Class of 2024. The cohort earned their undergraduate degrees from 39 institutions.

Both Accelerated and Post-graduate MPP students bring to Batten a rich blend of disciplinary backgrounds. These students are pursuing or have completed undergraduate degrees in 46 majors, including expected fields such as public policy, economics, and government, as well as other subjects spanning cognitive science, engineering, human nutrition, journalism and studio art. The Batten School has always offered a unique model regarding public policy and leadership, valuing cross-disciplinary skills and emphasizing the importance of the intersection of various fields of study.

The new post-graduate MPP class brought valuable experience from their work in the public and private sectors, working at places such as the American Enterprise Institute, Asia Foundation, Connecticut General Assembly, George W. Bush Presidential Center, Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, International Rescue Committee, New York State Supreme Court, Sierra Club, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, Sorensen Institute, South Carolina State Senate, U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Department of State, National Counterintelligence and Security Center and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. They have held positions as research analysts, school teachers, campaign advisors, consultants and much more.

The Accelerated MPP students at the Batten School remain active on Grounds, holding positions in student governance and volunteering with organizations both at the University of Virginia and in the Charlottesville community. They hold research roles in various centers and labs across Grounds.

In addition to the post-graduate program, this fall the Batten School welcomed 99 students into the undergraduate Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy & Leadership. This cohort represents the most ethnically diverse student body to date, with 33% of students identifying as students of color and 14% first generation students.

These public servants and civic leaders are deeply engaged on Grounds, in their communities and on the national stage. There are varsity athletes in multiple sports; members of Student Council and the Meriwether Lewis Institute for Citizen Leadership; OAAA Peer Advisors and Hispanic/Latinx Peer Mentors; ROTC members; and volunteers with Madison House, the Haven, and the Legal Aid Justice Center.

Student in Group at the Batten School
The Batten School welcomed 98 students to the Master of Public Policy program, 99 students to the Bachelor of Arts program and 59 new students to the Minor program. (Photo by John Robinson)

The Batten School also offers undergraduate minor degree programs, welcoming 59 new students to the Public Policy and Leadership Minor and 68 new students to the minor in social entrepreneurship. Students from the minors are majoring in the McIntire School, the School of Education and Human Development, and the College, in majors ranging from African and African American Studies to Computer Science to Global Studies to Media Studies to Sociology. 

The Dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, Ian Solomon, welcomed students with remarks to begin the academic year. Dean Solomon encouraged students to take care of themselves and each other, but also implored them to be the artists of their own lives.

Dean Solomon shared advice he had received from his late mother, who told him to the be artist of his life, to make life his canvas and to paint it.

“Her wish for me is that I would be original, that I would challenge myself,” Dean Solomon shared. “[She wanted me to] take risks, to take responsibility, to create something of meaning for myself and others.”

Dean Solomon continued to address the new post-graduate MPP students, who had gathered after orientation in the Great Hall of Garrett Hall, encouraging them to take advantage of their time at the Batten School.

“It is my wish that each of you will be the artists of your own life, that you will make your life into your own canvas and that you will apply your unique and absolutely original styles of artistry to make of your life a masterpiece of beauty, courage, hope, truth and purpose.”

The Dean ended by remarking that students at the Batten School should use the year to take risks, make mistakes, grow as leaders, and learn to use their skills for the important work at the heart of public policy and leadership - to make life better for people, to be agents of positive change, and to serve the public.

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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