Nov. 2, 2006 • Volume 15 Number 5

Michael Barry

CSOM's Barry earns honor from national business magazine

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

His students say he gives tough exams and tells some pretty corny jokes.

But Adj. Asst. Prof. Michael Barry (CSOM) has been selected by his Boston College finance students to receive one of Business Week magazine's "Favorite Professors" awards - one of only 22 management faculty members in the nation to earn his students' "A+" endorsement.

Barry, who holds an MBA and doctorate from BC, teaches Basic Finance, a requirement for all CSOM students, most of whom take the course in their sophomore year. "In Basic Finance you give them just enough to be dangerous," he says. "You know, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing? What they do is to see that there are a lot of personal aspects to the subject. It just isn't 'OK, here's the problem and there's just one formula to get an answer.'

"So when they come out of the intro to finance class, they tend to think 'Oh, there is really a lot of analytical work involved, there are a lot of judgments.' Then all of a sudden, it gets to be a little more interesting."

So interesting that, more often than not, his students return for his advanced level offerings, such as corporate finance or investments.

CSOM senior Allison Pistone changed her major to finance after taking Barry's introductory course and is now enrolled in his advanced investments group. "He has a genuine desire to see his students excel and goes beyond the call of duty to develop a personal relationship with each and every one of us," she says. "Before the first class even begins, he knows your name; by the end of the semester he has taught you a great deal; and by the time you graduate he will have provided you with the intellectual and career insights and guidance necessary to succeed.

"Hands down, he is the best professor I have been taught and mentored by at Boston College," she says.

Teaching was a natural calling for Barry, whose grandfather and uncle both taught at the college level, while a number of other family members are employed in the education profession. "It's sort of in the bloodlines," he quips.

"The best part of teaching," he says, "is dealing with the students. The classroom work is part of it, but my hope is that my students get only a quarter of their education in the classroom.

"A lot of it is right here in the office," he says, "where part of it is about the course, part of it is about the BC hockey team [he is a diehard season ticket holder] and part of it is just getting to know them, maybe talking about a 'day-in-the life' of this or that particular job.

"There are days when I am here for 13 or 14 hours," he notes. "Basically, if I am in and you knock on the door, it's an office hour. In some ways, that's the best part of the job, because you really get to see the impact that you have on the students."

Barry maintains contact with scores of his former students, and often calls upon them for networking connections when his current students are preparing to launch their own professional careers.

"It's obvious that Professor Barry loves what he does," adds Kristen De Leo '07, who is also taking her third class with him. "Outside of the classroom, he is a fantastic resource for students, especially those engaged in the internship and job search, as his knowledge on these subjects spans from finding a job that is the right fit for you to helping individual students prepare for their interviews."

"The students are so enthusiastic," Barry says. "Many times, they will look back and say 'Those were some of my hardest teachers, but I learned the most.' They will tell you that they are here for an education.

"One of the best comments I ever got on an evaluation was 'Learned a lot - even about finance.'

"I really felt good about that one," he laughs. "I had reached that person."

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