June 6, 2002
Vol. 21 No. 17

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    Nicholas Barberis, Professor of Finance in the GSB

    By Jessamine Chan
    Graduate School of Business

    Nicholas Barberis

    Nicholas Barberis, Associate Professor of Finance in the Graduate School of Business, is now a three-time recipient of the Emory Williams Award for Excellence in Teaching, having previously won in 1998 and 2000.

    Though he feels honored to receive the 2002 Emory Williams Award, Barberis downplays his own teaching talent. “I feel I may have an unfair advantage for this award because I teach a very large number of students, and I teach subject matter that they are going to enjoy no matter who is teaching the course,” said Barberis.

    Barberis teaches an introductory finance course on investments, which focuses on understanding how financial securities are priced and on making good investment decisions. He also teaches a Ph.D. level behavioral finance course. Behavioral finance is a growing area of study that combines psychology with finance to help explain various phenomena in financial markets.

    The balance between the two courses works well for Barberis, who enjoys teaching the very basics as well as an advanced course in his own area of specialization. “Transmitting the basic principles really requires a deep knowledge of the field,” said Barberis. “I like the challenge of taking what can be a complex and messy subject and distilling the material into a clear set of ideas.”

    Clarity is of prime importance to Barberis, and he aims to keep the material interesting and relevant for students in his lecture-based introductory classes.

    “I try to provide a comfortable environment for students, because for many of them, it is their first finance course,” he said. “They may be intimidated or worried that they won’t be able to understand the subject, and I’m careful to treat every student’s questions with respect.”

    The high expectations of the students help keep Barberis on his toes. “Our students are so good that they’re not going to let you get away with loose arguments or unclear thinking,” said Barberis. “I understand finance better today because of having to explain it to GSB students.”

    The Emory Williams Award is given annually to a junior faculty member at the GSB in recognition of communication, accessibility, enthusiasm and innovation in teaching. Nominations for this award were submitted by students from the school’s full-time and part-time M.B.A. programs.

    As a long-time supporter of the GSB, Emory Williams established the award in 1984. Williams is the former chairman and chief executive officer of the Sears Bank & Trust Co. and the Chicago Milwaukee Corp.

    Barberis earned a B.A. in mathematics from Cambridge University in 1991, and a Ph.D. in business economics from Harvard University in 1996.