Faculty Honors Patell for Service and Achievement

James Patell is the 2007 recipient of the Robert T. Davis award, presented by the school’s faculty to recognize an individual for a lifetime of service and achievement.

March 01, 2007

James Patell, who joined the Business School faculty 32 years ago as an accounting professor with a degree in marine architecture, is the 2007 recipient of the Robert T. Davis award, presented by the School’s faculty to recognize an individual for a lifetime of service and achievement.

The Herbert Hoover Professor of Public and Private Management, Patell was honored at a March 6 faculty dinner. The co-director of the Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing at Stanford, Patell is also a founding faculty member of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, otherwise known as Stanford’s d.School, and he was a creator of and co-teaches the course Design for Extreme Affordability.

“I learned very quickly that Jim’s talents were enormous,” recalled Robert Jaedicke, dean emeritus of the Business School, who taught accounting with Patell during his first year. “He’s very smart, he knows manufacturing processes, math, and computing processing and operations … and he was one of the best project managers. The more complex the project, the more people involved, the more interdisciplinary it was, the better. Oh, and he did know some accounting.”

Patell served six years as an associate dean of the Business School under Jaedicke. He is credited with being the driving force to revitalize the School’s Public Management Program. Since the program’s founding nearly 3,000 students have taken the specific set of courses to earn a PMP certificate in addition to MBA or Sloan management degrees, including 92 from last year’s graduating class.

Mark Wolfson, who joined the accounting faculty two years after Patell, said the two occasionally labored until 3 a.m. during the years that they produced seven research papers together. “I was blown away by Jim’s commitment to excellence,” he said.

The two did more than labor over research. “We remodeled a house together. One of us knew what he was doing. It wasn’t me,” said Wolfson. “We took a sabbatical together. The University of Chicago still doesn’t know what to make of the two Stanford professors from California who dressed up as the Blues Brothers—Jake and Elwood—in 1981, with briefcases handcuffed to our wrists, and handed out final exams.”

In addition, Patell was named the 2007 recipient of the Miriam and Aaron Roland Volunteer Service Prize presented by the Haas Center for Public Service. The prize is presented to a Stanford faculty member who “over and above the normal academic duties— engages and involves students in integrating academic scholarship with significant volunteer service to society.”

As part of his work with the Public Management Program, Patell created the Public Management Initiative, a program that each year selects one topic for PMP students to focus on and delve deeply into meeting pressing social problems through speakers, conferences, trips, and other activities.

The award is named for the late Robert T. Davis, a beloved member of the school’s marketing faculty.

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