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2014 Teaching Awards
Teaching “is not natural for me,” insists Portico Senior Lecturer Amy LaCombe ’90, though her 2014 Carroll School Teaching Award in Undergraduate Teaching is her second such recognition from the school. (The first came in 2011.) A senior lecturer in accounting who helped design the Portico course that introduces undergraduates to the ethical challenges of contemporary business, LaCombe says one of her primary goals is to show entering business school students how they can, in the Jesuit tradition, both “do well and do good.”
A former guard on the Boston College women’s basketball team, LaCombe expects her students to work hard and approaches teaching as would a demanding coach. Despite her toughness, her students like and admire her, says one student, Andrew Masi. LaCombe, he says, personally engages each of them in a conversation— not a lecture—in class. “She genuinely wants everyone to master concepts,” Masi says.
The principles of investing, the asset pricing model, the distinctions between liquidity and liquidity risk—this material comes to life in Professor of Finance and Hillenbrand Family Fellow Ronnie Sadka’s graduate investments course on stocks, bonds, derivatives, and options. Sadka, winner of the 2014 Carroll School Teaching Award in Graduate Teaching, places a premium on clarity, illustrating financial theories with real-world illustrations. “I tell my students, if you can’t explain these things to your grandmother, you don’t understand them,” says Sadka, who invites finance professionals to class to talk to students about their jobs.
A former lieutenant in the Israeli Army with a Ph.D. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Sadka is known for persuading students—even those who lack a quantitative background—that finance is fun. One of his former students, David MacDougall, says Sadka is skilled at translating complex mathematical concepts “into a common language. He is able to accomplish all of this in a calm and lighthearted manner that makes class very enjoyable.”
Teaching is “not a popularity contest,” says Business Law Lecturer Thomas Wesner ’89, winner of the 2014 Carroll School Undergraduate Teaching Award. Wesner’s business law and economics courses combine rigorous content with his adeptness at drawing out students’ personal experiences to illustrate the ethics issues he raises during class. The lecturer also draws on his diverse academic background and work experience: a graduate of Boston College and the New England School of Law, he has a Lynch School doctorate in educational leadership and is a business attorney and former headmaster of the Woodward School in Quincy.
But in the classroom, it’s all about Wesner’s knack for putting students at ease and engaging them during his lectures, which he conducts in the Socratic style. One former student, Alec Stonitsch, calls Wesner’s law and economics course his “favorite class of all time.” Stonitsch adds, “I have never had another teacher who cared so much about his students and about pushing them intellectually.”