2008 Distinguished Faculty Service Award

Congratulations to Our 2008 Recipient

Professor William Barnett, recipient of the PhD Distinguished Service award, was cited by doctoral students whom he advises for being engaged with his students and supporting their work.

The Thomas Siebel Professor of Business Leadership, Strategy, and Organizations, Barnett is director of the Center for Global Business and the Economy and director or co-director of three executive education programs.

Barnett, who earned his PhD at UC Berkeley in 1988, thanked Glenn Carroll, the Laurence W. Lane Professor of Organizations, who was his thesis advisor.

Doctoral student, Nick Switanek, one of Barnett’s advisees, said he often hears a loud internal voice saying “No!” “Bill sees a maybe and often a yes. He’s wonderful to exchange ideas with. He always knew how to meet me where I was and to help me grow.”

Barnett is also an advisor to doctoral student Elizabeth Pontikes who credited him with leading her to be an ethical researcher, and to “focus on what the data’s showing” rather than what might be expected.

Excerpts and Highlights from Nominations

On Teaching

Bill has distinguished himself in term of teaching primarily on two dimensions. First, the depth of thinking. Bill has made a lot of efforts to help students think beyond the visible arguments and see through the available evidence. The second thing that distinguishes Bill’s teaching efforts is he tries very hard to expand students’ knowledge spectrum. He always wants students to be aware that it is impossible for faculties in a single department to cover all the interesting topics in a field and strongly encourages students to talk to people outside Stanford to see what interesting is going on.

Bill is consistently creative and generous. Enlisted help from colleagues around the world in providing us with recently published data to re-analyze.

Bill teaches students to plot and understand trends in the data before running models. He is a strong role model as an ethical and academic scientist — always pushing students to develop their models and metrics before testing them on the data, so as not to be swayed by the results when making decisions about what metrics to use.

On Advising and Research

Bill has consistently gone “above and beyond” as my principal advisor, and I credit him for much of my success in this program. First and foremost, Bill has instilled values of ethics and quality in research and teaching.

Bill is very open for students to explore their research ideas and tries his best to help in every possible way. He is always ready to ask students to take the lead while at the same time provide very good guidance when they navigate ahead.

Bill has an open-door policy, encouraging and challenging as necessary.


Bill’s course development for the PhD Strategy course was innovative and successful. I have never before heard of a class where students have access to the actual data in the papers we are reading. The fact that he was able to have access to this speaks to the amount of respect and esteem the general research community holds for him, and the fact that he was willing to use this to help students speaks to his commitment to teaching and mentorship. Bill also encouraged me to get involved with case writing. He was focused on developing cases for a global course and we are co-authoring a case on Siemens Portugal. With this case I was able to get experience interviewing and developing a case for MBA courses.

Bill’s PhD course on Strategy was one of the best I’ve taken as a PhD student at Stanford!!

Bill has been a strong personal role model for me as my advisor. His time management skills are the best I have ever seen. He is actively engaged with his family, his students, his research, and his teaching.