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Petersen Wins Phi Beta Kappa Award

Harold Petersen (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Associate Professor of Economics Harold Petersen has been selected for the 2014 Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, given annually by the academic honor society’s Boston College chapter to a faculty member who has achieved excellence as a teacher and advisor.

Petersen began teaching at BC as an instructor in 1960, and has twice served as chairman of the Economics Department. His fields of concentration are capital markets, statistics and econometrics.

Students who nominated Petersen for the award described him as “very dedicated to his students,” “engaging, knowledgeable and experienced,” “always encouraging” and “a tremendous professor and mentor.”

“His knowledge, professionalism and sincere interest in his students place him in the ranks of professorial excellence,” wrote one student.

Petersen said the award represented a “vote of confidence [that] means more to me than I can possibly say.”
Reflecting on his career, Petersen said one important revelation that has had a significant impact on his teaching, and his life, is that “almost everything we teach about time management is wrong.” Early on, he explained, he felt compelled to “guard my time” as a means to fulfill his responsibilities.

“I learned over the years that if I take time to smell the roses, I get refreshed and get so much more done with the remaining time. I learned that if I can give freely of my time, with no thought of what it might be costing me, that I am filled with positive energy that flows through to everything I do.  

“Time may be limited in one sense – it is finite by the clock -– but what happens with time is highly elastic.  I can spend hours at a task and get nothing done.  Or I can have 10 minutes of amazing productivity.  And in my experience, those productive 10 minutes are so much more likely to occur when one is not worried about the clock.”