Sharon Oster, the Frederic D. Wolfe Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, is the recipient of the 2018 Irwin Outstanding Educator Award for Excellence in MBA/Executive Education, the Academy of Management announced. The award is given by the academy’s Strategic Management Division to an “educator who has demonstrated outstanding teaching ability, an important impact on teaching pedagogy, and deep passion about the subject of strategic management and about the intellectual development of students.”
Oster joined the Yale School of Management in 1982. She became the first woman tenured professor at the school in 1983 and served as its first woman dean from 2008 to 2011. She is the author of influential textbooks, including Modern Competitive Analysis and Strategic Management for Nonprofit Organizations. Her contributions in the classroom are innumerable: she developed a pioneering course in Nonprofit Management that has contributed to the school’s distinctive mission of educating leaders for business and society; she played a critical role in the development and launch of the school’s integrated MBA core curriculum; she has authored 14 case studies; she twice was selected by students to receive Yale SOM’s annual Award for Excellence in Teaching.
The Irwin Award announcement described Oster’s teaching style as being “renowned for a mix of demanding preparation and in-class rigor, engagement and insightful storytelling”—a description that will no doubt seem familiar to generations of Yale management students. One former student, Matt Rogers ’89, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, recalled Oster’s “clarity” and “rigor” in an interview for a recent profile. He said, “The debates in her class were among the most vigorously engaging of my time at SOM... The tools Sharon gave us almost 30 years ago are well worn, but applying these fundamentals still works wonders.”
Oster’s teaching and research earned her the American Economic Association’s prestigious Carolyn Shaw Bell Award, given to “an individual who has furthered the status of women in the economics profession,” in 2011. Sandra Urie ’85, the chairman emeritus of Cambridge Associates, was one of the former students who nominated Oster. “She is an exceptional economist, an inspiring teacher, a friend, and mentor,” Urie wrote in her nomination letter. “Many, many generations of Yale students, especially the women who have had the opportunity to learn from her, are the beneficiaries of Sharon’s exceptional teaching.”
Oster has played a pivotal role in shaping both the economics group at Yale SOM and the academic culture at the school. Fiona Scott Morton, the Theodore Nierenberg Professor of Economics and a longtime colleague, said, “Sharon is not only a fantastic teacher of her own students, but has for years taught her colleagues how to be better teachers, both directly and through example. She regularly sits in on the classes of junior faculty to give them comments and feedback. She is also great at casually discussing teaching at lunch, for example… This regular reinforcement of the importance of teaching in all its forms has strongly shaped the culture at SOM.”
Oster will receive her award at the 2018 Academy of Management Annual Meeting, August 10-14, in Chicago, Illinois.