C. Alan Bester, Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of BusinessBy Jessamine Chan
Graduate School of Business
C. Alan Bester, Assistant Professor of Econometrics and Statistics in the Graduate School of Business, has received the Emory Williams Award for teaching excellence. Bester joined the GSB faculty in 2004.
The Emory Williams Award is given annually to a junior faculty member at the GSB in recognition of 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.
Bester teaches Business Statistics, a course he describes as statistics from “the ground up.” Taught in the Fall Quarter, the course begins with analyzing data in Excel spreadsheets, progresses to variables and averages, to looking for patterns in data, and moves into formal statistical inference and regression models.
“It’s more like teaching a language than teaching an analytical course,” says Bester. “Statistics is the language in which modern business problems are solved. Understanding business statistics is less about knowing a set of formulas than it is about being comfortable with a set of ideas and being able to express arguments and facts in this language.”
Bester admits some students’ expectations for an introductory statistics course can be low because of unfavorable memories they may have of undergraduate statistics, so he particularly enjoys being able to make the subject relevant and exciting. The way the material is presented is just as important as the material itself, and the greatest satisfaction comes when students are able to engage in dialogue about which tools are appropriate for solving different problems.
“GSB students are an exceptional group of young men and women who walk through the door extremely motivated, saying, ‘Let’s go. What do you have to show me?’” says Bester. “I have to be excited about what I’m teaching so that I can convey to students why this material will make them better businesspeople, and why it will be useful to them in every class they take at the GSB afterward.”
Emory Williams, a former chairman and chief executive officer of the Sears Bank & Trust Company and the Chicago Milwaukee Corp. established the award in 1984.
Bester earned a B.S. in mathematics and economics from Duke University in 1999, and a Ph.D. in economics, also from Duke University, in 2004.
In addition to the Emory Williams Award, four faculty members, who teach in the executive M.B.A. programs, received the Hillel J. Einhorn Excellence in Teaching Awards. Winners of the Einhorn awards are Federico Bandi, Associate Professor of Econometrics and Statistics, nominated by students in the Europe Executive M.B.A. program; Michael Gibbs, Clinical Professor of Economics in the GSB, nominated by students in the North America Executive M.B.A. program taught at the Gleacher Center; Lars Stole, the Eli B. and Harriet B. Williams Professor of Economics in the GSB, nominated by students in the Asia Executive M.B.A. program; and Per Stromberg, Adjunct Associate Professor of Finance in the GSB, nominated by students in the Europe Executive M.B.A. program.