Feinberg, Duffie, and Kasznik Honored as Distinguished Teachers

A "command performer," "master of asset pricing," and a professor who creates a safe environment for learning are recognized by Stanford GSB students.

June 02, 2003

Yossi Feinberg, associate professor of economics, was honored with the 2003 Distinguished Teaching Award at a noontime ceremony May 27.

In addition, doctoral students honored Darrell Duffie with the PhD Distinguished Service Award for his teaching, advice, and support of students and the academic process. The Sloan Excellence in Teaching Award went to Ron Kasznik for the second time in three years.

“The quality of teaching here is amazing,” remarked a humble Feinberg when he accepted the MBA award. “I still think there’s a mistake,” he joked.

There was no mistaking the praise for Feinberg, as cited by first-year MBA student John Abbamondi, who introduced him. “What shows up again and again in these comments [from fellow students] is the portrait of a man who taught with wisdom and compassion, simultaneously pushing his students extremely hard while doing everything he could to ensure that they succeeded.” Most notably, he added, although the professor was demanding of his students, he demanded even more from himself.

“His lectures were like command performances,” said one nominator.

“He is, quite simply, the best teacher I’ve ever had,” said another. “He made the complex clear, the dull delightful, and the hour-and-forty-five minutes seem too short. I’ve never met a teacher who so clearly cared about his students, who wanted so much for them to succeed that he confessed, prior to our midterm, that as stressed as we might be, he was more nervous still. But he had nothing to worry about, because he is, in my opinion, the most outstanding professor in the core.”

Yet Feinberg professed occasional doubts about the quality of his teaching, said Abbamondi, relating a comment the faculty member made over lunch one day: “ ‘When you come to Stanford and start teaching here,’ Feinberg said, ‘you look around and quickly realize that everyone here is an amazing teacher — everyone but you. It’s so intimidating.’”

Kicking off the ceremony, Stanford GSB Dean Robert Joss set the context for the award. “Here at the Stanford Business School, we produce ideas and graduates who are expected to have a high impact on the world,” he said. “Our faculty play a key part in the production of both.”

In nominating Darrell Duffie, pictured here, for the PhD award, one doctoral student noted: “Darrell is the most dedicated teacher I have ever had. He wants all students in his class to learn, and is willing to put in the effort and time to make sure that happens. The best students from math, statistics, engineering, economics, and the GSB take this class. There is no better way to learn asset pricing than from the master.”

Students also praised Duffie for supporting their job searches, helping them expand their educational horizons, and spending his personal time on their issues. “Knowing the wide range of activities he is involved with, obligations facing him, the tremendous interest so many people have in interacting with him, I marvel each time I think of the amount of time he has given to me — from his office, home, and even travels. Also, on his own he has taken time to think about issues of interest to me.”

Duffie is the James Irvin Miller Professor of Finance.

Citing educational value and quality of the learning experience, Sloan fellows honor a professor teaching one of the Sloan core courses. In nominating Ron Kasznik, pictured here, Sloan students said he taught “in a comfortable and safe learning environment for those of us who thought accounting would be particularly challenging. He drew upon our experience and allowed us to learn from each other as well as him. Accounting is not usually considered to be interesting, memorable, and fun, but Professor Kasznik made it all of those.” Kasznik is an associate professor of accounting.

Feinberg teaches microeconomics, a required course for first-year students. He received his undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He served for two years on the faculty of Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University before coming to Stanford Business School in 1998.

In the 2003 nominations for the MBA award, the field was so strong, said Alexis Hanneken, who chaired the student-run MBA committee, that students named four honorable mentions for their strong teaching, preparation and forethought, energy and passion, and ability to engage students. The four faculty honored were:

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