Each year, students at Stanford Graduate School of Business recognize three faculty members who have made significant contributions in teaching and student impact. Approachability, the push for critical thinking, commitment to creating meaningful educational experiences for students, and consistent guidance and support are four themes common to this year’s teaching awards. This year’s recipients:
2015 MBA Distinguished Teaching Award: Jonathan Levav
This year MBA students chose Associate Professor of Marketing Jonathan Levav, who has been at Stanford GSB since 2011 and teaches the management foundation class, Product Launch, as well as the elective, From Launch to Liquidity.
One nomination said he “represents the passion for doing great things while loving what he does and being interested in the people that surround him.” Another student appreciated his steady encouragement and said that he “really challenges us to think critically about our cases and class discussions. He has inspired depth of thought and created a really fun class that's very challenging in a good way.”
In accepting the award, Levav said the most important lesson in teaching came from his wife, who sensitized him to potential gender differences in classroom interaction. “The challenge for me was how do I create a classroom context where I can be the sort of aggressive-demanding me but do that in an environment where everyone feels comfortable, including people that have different backgrounds and psychology.”
In addition to his MBA teaching, Levav works with students as co-director of all student-led study trips and serves as the faculty director for the Behavioral Lab. He is also faculty director of the Stanford Ignite-Santiago program in innovation and entrepreneurship and faculty co-director of Stanford Ignite-Bangalore.
2015 PhD Faculty Distinguished Service Award: John-Paul Ferguson
PhD students commended Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior John-Paul Ferguson, whom they call JP, for his clarity in direction, eagerness to problem solve, and his generosity in offering guidance that extends beyond his official duties.
Ferguson, who studies the dynamics of bureaucracy and careers in organizations, teaches Strategic Leadership and Stratification in Organizations. As PhD advisor, he engages with students preparing for an academic career and provides strategic guidance on research. “I have walked into JP’s office with a jumble of related research strands and left with a clear research question and a preliminary empirical strategy,” said one student. His “commitment to PhD students is really unmatched,” said another.
"JP is the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of our faculty,” another student noted. “His willingness to help out with just about any problem or topic makes him a fantastic person to have as our liaison."
Ferguson said he was excited when he received notification of the award, but not for obvious reasons: “I’ve said I’m more proud as a junior professor to win the PhD teaching award versus the MBA teaching award. At this point in my career, I’m trying to develop my reputation as a researcher, and being strong at advising PhD students, developing their research topics with them and so on, is an important skill to be honing,” he said. Ferguson sees his role as providing important perspective to help students frame their research in order to broaden their appeal to new and differing audiences.
He also said that when students come to him for research advice, his guidance often veers outside topics confined to empirical research to career and personal advising.
MSx Distinguished Teaching Award: Elizabeth Blankespoor
Assistant Professor of Accounting Elizabeth Blankespoor, who studies financial reporting and corporate disclosure, teaches Global Financial Reporting.
Students honored Blankespoor for taking on the difficult global accounting course and then making it even more difficult for herself by teaching the advanced version of the class.
In identifying Blankespoor for the award, the nominating committee acknowledged that “spending 10 weeks teaching to CPAs, CFOs, FDs must have been hard, yet she balanced imparting knowledge with humility, in equal measure, to inspire the students each week.”
Students praised Blankespoor’s enthusiasm for teaching MSx students advanced accounting topics: "The passion for the subject and for teaching clearly comes through," said one student.
"The effort that goes into each class is outstanding; to care that each person ‘gets it’ is amazing," another student noted.
Upon acceptance, Blankespoor called the award a “wonderful surprise.” She noted that last spring when first asked to teach the course, she was curious as to what the experience would yield. Given the MSx class is a bit larger than MBA classes, she wondered if the size might hamper discussion. “I soon realized we didn’t have a problem with discussion, it was [with] getting a word in edgewise,” she joked at the award ceremony.
The MSx students’ diverse backgrounds, she said, led them to be “as excited about advanced accounting as I am.”
Her research focuses on the determinants of financial reporting and corporate disclosure choice, as well as the implications of these choices for capital market participants, regulators, and the flow of financial information. Her recent work examines the role of information processing costs in firm disclosure choice, the impact of changes in information technology on financial information flow, and the use of fair values in financial reporting.