The Business of Writing

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Clear, compelling writing can be a powerful factor in leadership success. Professor John D. Forbes taught generations of Darden School of Business students how to write with style and clarity in his course “Analysis and Communication.” For years, Darden alumni consistently cited the course as the one in which they learned and retained the most.

“Many of us considered Professor Forbes’ course to be the best class with the greatest impact on our careers.”

Now 105 years old, Professor Emeritus Forbes is serving as the inspiration for a new, upper-level writing and public speaking seminar for undergraduate students in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. The John D. Forbes Seminar for Career Focused Writing and Communications, to be supported by a generous gift from Darden alumnus Lee R. Forker Jr., will emphasize oral and written communications that will prepare Arts & Sciences students for leadership roles in a variety of careers.

“Many of us, from the early days of Darden, considered Professor Forbes’ course to be the best class with the greatest impact on our careers,” said Forker, a 1963 graduate of Darden and the founder of New England Research & Management Inc., a Boston-based investment management firm.

“I don’t remember too much from my finance courses back then, but I still know the difference between objective and subjective case, thanks to Professor Forbes,” Forker said.

A Founding Faculty Member
Among the first faculty members to be hired by Charles C. Abbott, Darden’s founding dean, Forbes helped design the curriculum for the school’s inaugural class in 1955. He carried the title of professor of business history, and during his career at UVA authored biographies of American banker and financier J.P. Morgan Jr., Edward R. Stettinius Sr., and Victorian architect William Tinsley.

Forbes taught at Darden until the age of 70. Forbes and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, continue to live in Charlottesville.

“I was deeply touched,” Forbes said. “I was deeply, deeply moved by this vote of confidence. Lee was just so dear to do this.”

The Forbes Seminar is being developed as the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences continues work on the first revision of its undergraduate curriculum in four decades. The seminar will serve to reinforce the value of a liberal arts education in a global economy and help students create resumes that reflect their professionally valuable skills.

Forker said the lessons that he learned in Forbes’ classroom have served him well during his career in the U.S. Navy, as well as in the fields of investment banking and financial management. “I hope that the Forbes Seminar will inspire future Arts & Sciences undergraduates as much as Professor Forbes inspired me.”

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