Tomlin and Gerakos Receive 2018 Teaching Excellence Awards

Students praised the professors for making difficult topics accessible and engaging.

The Tuck Class of 2018 has announced this year’s winners of the annual Teaching Excellence Awards.

In the core curriculum, students selected Brian T. Tomlin, a professor of business administration, for his Operations course. In the elective category, students chose Joseph J. Gerakos D’90, an associate professor of business administration and the Harvey H. Bundy III T’68 Faculty Fellow, who teaches the Managerial Accounting course.

The Teaching Excellence Awards were set up by the Class of 2011 to “celebrate the learning environment at Tuck by honoring the faculty who, in the eyes of their students, have made an outstanding contribution to the quality of the educational experience.” Each year, an academic representative from the graduating class surveys his or her classmates about their favorite teachers and meets with a committee to examine the comments and data and select the winners.

Brian Tomlin has been teaching the core Operations course at Tuck since 2010, and he uses a mixture of case studies, discussions, and in-class and out-of-class web-based simulations. He strives to give his students—many of whom have no prior operations experience—the ability to be effective team members on operations projects and to prepare them for P&L responsibility.

“Tuck students are a pleasure to teach,” Tomlin says. “I think what resonates with them is that operations is a way of thinking about the world through a process-oriented lens. And when you do that, you can start to think about improving that process.”

The way Tomlin taught Operations could be a model for how anything should be taught. A complex course was broken down into easy modules, simulations were used brilliantly to illustrate concepts, and lessons learned from simulations were put together in structured ways. A great job making a relatively dry topic like operations come alive!

Joseph Gerakos has taught managerial accounting for two years at Tuck and, before that, for nine years at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The course is almost entirely case-based, with a lot of discussion, which pushes students to hone their analytical and communication skills simultaneously. In a course about decision-making—to build a product or not; to take a client order or pass—the students must state and defend their argument, and clarify the assumptions they’re making in the process.

I never thought I would be excited to go to an accounting class, but Professor Gerakos makes managerial accounting accessible and practical. I appreciate that he highlights the terms and skills that will be useful after school, and doesn't make anyone feel embarrassed to ask him to explain even the most basic concepts or terminology. Even though accounting and economics don't come easily to me, I consider the skills I learned in his courses to be some of the most valuable skills I've gained during my Tuck experience.

“I enjoy getting the students to engage, getting them to push back on each other’s assumptions,” Gerakos says. “It makes for a lively discussion, sheds light on different viewpoints, and helps them make better decisions.”

As has become the tradition, Tomlin and Gerakos, as the recipients of the Teaching Excellence Awards, will deliver the “Last Lecture” on Friends and Family Day on Friday, June 8.