Jun 01, 2015

My Top 5 Favorite Professors

By Isaac Ipson T'15

Isaac is a second-year student at Tuck who is loving his life in Hanover with his wife and two sons (one and three years old). As an undergrad, Isaac studied economics and took a two year break to serve a two-year mission for his church in Poland. Immediately before Tuck, he worked in Chicago for Sears Holdings. He intends to head to Dallas after graduation to work for the company with which he interned, DaVita Healthcare Partners.

When I was looking into Tuck, a common bragging point for students and the admissions team was the great faculty. Admittedly, this was not high on my list of determining factors when choosing a school, in large part because it seemed very difficult to compare. After nearly two years at Tuck—and still zero at any other business school—I’m still in no position to compare, but can personally attest to the fantastic professors I’ve had while at Tuck. Regardless of the topic, the professor can make or break the class. Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of professors who have “made” a lot of classes for me. So if anyone is reading this with a decision or future applications in mind, I would definitely recommend asking students from different schools about the teaching. It has been fantastic for me here at Tuck.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share my five favorite professors from Tuck (in alphabetical order) and why. 

1. Giovanni Gavetti, associate professor of business administration

Professor Gavetti taught my first-year core Strategy course. He is an excellent case-method instructor. His course was exactly what I imagined a business school classroom would be like—fast-paced, students all highly-engaged throwing out varying perspectives, professor orchestrating the discussion until it ultimately leads to insights. Throw in the Italian accent, and the class couldn’t have been better.

2. Joe Hall, visiting associate professor of business administration

Joe, as he’s typically known around here, is a staple at Tuck. It’s pretty hard to graduate without having at least one course taught by him. He teaches half of the first-years in two separate core courses: Managerial Economics in the fall and Operations Management in the spring (I was lucky enough to have him for both). I also took his second-year elective, Tools For Improving Operations, which builds on the first-year course. He’s a fantastic teacher: insightful, straightforward, and entertaining. I did not come to Tuck with a strong interest in operations but I am leaving fascinated by it. There is never a dull class with Joe (and if there is, he’ll at least include a cool video somewhere to break it up).

3. Daniel Feiler, assistant professor of business administration

Professor Feiler is fairly new to Tuck but has quickly gained a great reputation among students. He teaches the Negotiations elective course and probably more than any other course, I can say that I loved every single session. It is very different than any other course because the first class each week is almost entirely a negotiation with a classmate(s) that we prepared the night before. In any given week I may be negotiating a movie contract with a “movie star," a settlement with the French government, or my own first job out of Tuck. The second class of the week would then be dedicated to sharing our experiences and the class’s outcomes from the day before as well as the negotiating tactics and research told by Professor Feiler. It was a fantastic course because it was so relevant (many of us were in process of negotiating offers or anticipated new jobs or homes to buy) and interactive.

4. Rob Shumsky, professor of operations management

Professor Shumsky was the very first professor that I met at Tuck. When I was a visiting prospective student, I visited the first day of his fall core Decision Sciences course. One year later I was in that same classroom myself as a Tuck student (it was kind of nice to be able to gloss over that first homework assignment). While spreadsheet modeling is not my passion (although I sure have done plenty of it), Professor Shumsky’s energy and excitement for his work is contagious. This especially came through when I took his Service Operations elective. Professor Shumsky also does a great job integrating other professors from Tuck into his teaching when there is relevant overlap.

5. Alva Taylor, associate professor of business administration

Signing up for Professor Taylor’s elective (Strategy in Turbulent Environments) was one of the biggest rolls of the dice I took when signing up for courses here. Not because I had heard anything bad, but rather because I hadn’t heard anything at all from other students and didn’t have any idea what to expect. It turned out to be my favorite course of my second year. He only teaches two small sections (seemed like less than 30 students each) of the course which made for much more involved discussion. I loved the course because I felt like the frameworks that he used were very easy to experiment with and remember. He also brings a ton of energy to the class and leads by example by applying his frameworks to current events in business that we talk about.

I had to choose an arbitrary number of professors to highlight, but here are a few other professors that I can’t help but mention from my time here:

Elizabeth Teisberg, professor at the Geisel School of Medicine  

I am going to work for a U.S.-based health care company, so my current elective with her (Value Based Health Care Strategy) is extremely relevant and she has a wealth of knowledge from her years of researching and writing on the subject as well as ongoing work with health systems and physicians.

Emily Blanchard, associate professor of business administration

Another one of my core professors, Professor Blanchard was a great professor last year and I have seen a lot of her as a second-year student. She seems to take great advantage of listening to many of the visitors that come to speak to us at Tuck.

Matt Slaughter, incoming dean of Tuck, the Signal Companies' Professor of Management

For the sake of future Tuckies, hopefully he continues teaching his popular elective even as he takes over as Dean (and rumor has it that he will).

Praveen Kopalle, professor of marketing

A great testament to excellent teaching is that two of the most loved professors here at Tuck teach the core Stats course (Professor Kopalle (PK), whom I’ve had, and Professor Neslin). PK set the bar high in Fall A for adding entertainment value to what could be perceived as a less interesting class.

It’s been a pleasure learning from and getting to know so many great professors here at Tuck!