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World’s Best B-School Professors: Sharon Oster

If Yale’s Sharon Oster wasn’t a master teacher and former dean, she would be a stand-up comic

Sharon Oster

Yale School of Management

Claim to Fame: Former Dean, Yale School of Management

Age: 62


Harvard University, PhD

Hofstra College, BA

At Yale since: 1974

Before Yale: Studying at Harvard Economics Department for PhD

Fun fact: My husband, daughter, and son-in-law are all economists teaching at universities as well

If I wasn’t teaching my dream job would be: Stand-up comedy—although I am not really very funny which is one reason it is a dream.

Best part of the job: Working with a student that I have just cold called on to help him or her understand a new idea.

Worst part of the job: Like everyone else, I hate grading.

When Sharon Oster assumed the position as dean of the Yale School of Management in 2008, her appointment inspired an anonymous $1 million donation to the school. In honor of Oster’s unique ability to connect with students, the Oster Fund was created to maintain the business school’s ongoing efforts to unite students with faculty. While this was the most high profile recognition of Oster’s teaching excellence, it wasn’t the first. In 1988, she was awarded the first Yale School of Management Award for Excellence in Teaching. Then in 2008, she won the award a second time, being recognized by the MBA Class of 2008 for her teaching contributions in the MBA curriculum.

Oster is a professor of entrepreneurship and management and specializes in competitive strategy, microeconomic theory, industrial organization, and the economics of regulation & antitrust and nonprofit strategy. She has published extensively and is known for including students in her research. Oster’s book, Modern Competitive Analysis is emphasizes an economic approach to strategic planning and is used widely at management schools. Oster is an integral part of the SOM faculty and significantly contributed to the development of SOM’s new integrated MBA curriculum, launched in 2006, and to the planning and completion of SOM’s new $222 million building that will open in late 2012.

Students Say:

“Professor Oster is one of the most engaging, interactive professors I’ve ever had in class. She’s quick and demanding, but supportive. If you don’t know the answer, she’ll help you figure it out, but she expects everyone to be well prepared. Watching her in class is like seeing a conductor of an orchestra; she has the complete focus of everyone in the room and her passion for teaching brings out the best in each of her students.”

“This past year when I took her Economics class, she was also serving as our Dean. That she chose to continue teaching while also leading our school and raising money for our new campus demonstrates how much she cares about teaching students. During the year she also challenged us to participate in the New Haven road race, donated to our internship fund, and was an actively engaged member of our community. Yale SOM teaches us to be leaders in business in society, and Professor Oster exemplifies that type of leadership.” — Bryce Hall – Yale SOM Class of 2012