July 13, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 19

current issue
archive / search

    Nicholas Barberis honored by the Graduate School of Business

    By Soo Ji Min
    Graduate School of Business

    [nicholas barberis]Since Nicholas Barberis started teaching at the Graduate School of Business in 1997, he has won the Emory Williams Award for Excellence in Teaching twice. An Associate Professor of Finance in the GSB, Barberis first won the award in 1998 and has recently repeated that feat by receiving the 2000 Williams award.

    A student committee solicited nominations from classmates across four of the school’s M.B.A. programs÷campus, evening, weekend and executive. The award recognizes a junior faculty member for communication, accessibility, enthusiasm and innovation in teaching.

    Emory Williams, former chairman and chief executive officer of the Sears Bank & Trust Company and the Chicago Milwaukee Corp., established the award in 1984. Although Williams is not a graduate of the GSB, he has maintained a long and supportive relationship with the school.

    When Barberis learned he had won the award for a second time, he said he was rather surprised. “I didn’t expect it at all. I felt quite lucky. There are many good teachers here.”

    He attributes his teaching successes to the helpful hints and encouragement he received from his colleagues when he first joined the GSB faculty. Barberis said that Robert Vishny, the Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, and Steven Kaplan, the Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, showed him that GSB professors are able to be “world-class researchers and very good teachers at the same time.”

    For Barberis, excellence in teaching is linked closely to quality research. Indeed, his research seems to fuel the content and energy of his introductory finance class. “If you think a lot about research, about what really makes investors tick and prices what they are, it makes it easier to be a good teacher. A lot of the ideas that students find interesting are the same ideas I am trying to push in my research.”

    Because most of his work is in the area of behavioral finance, Barberis draws insights from psychology to explain investor behavior and market pricing. His approach is one to which his students can easily relate.

    Many students who already are knowledgeable about finance enter his investments class “not really believing the course is going to change the way they think about finance,” Barberis said. They also tend to believe that if they did not understand finance from the start, they will not understand it at the end of the course. But Barberis has proven them wrong. “Thatās pretty gratifying,” he said.

    Barberis values the opportunity to approach his research and teaching from his own viewpoint, which often is outside the mainstream and in opposition to views traditionally held by the school. Although Chicago is known as the bastion of the rational-choice approach, which assumes investors act rationally and that prices are set according to rational choices, Barberis noted that the school strives to be at the forefront of research. “[The school] welcomes cutting-edge research on any topic or any approach,” he said.

    Barberis received a bachelor’s degree with first-class honors in mathematics in 1991 from Cambridge University, Jesus College. He earned his Ph.D. in business economics in 1996 from Harvard University.