Anonymous Gift Celebrates Student–Faculty Connection

SOM dean Sharon Oster, center, has worked closely with Yale College students since she joined the faculty in 1974.

Yale College has received a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor in honor of Sharon Oster, newly appointed dean and the Frederic D. Wolfe Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at the Yale School of Management. The gift will establish the Sharon Oster Resource Fund for Undergraduate Teaching and Engagement.

The donor created the fund to celebrate the University’s longstanding commitment to undergraduate teaching, citing the experience as Oster’s student and research assistant as the inspiration for the gift.

“Yale is one of the very few schools in the world, maybe the only school, where undergraduates routinely have access to world-class faculty like Sharon Oster,” the donor said. “If an endowed fund can encourage more of these interactions by recognizing her enormous contributions to generations of undergraduates, it is a singular privilege to be a part of that process.”

The fund will be awarded annually to faculty members who have extended themselves in their work with undergraduates, recognizing their above-and-beyond efforts to engage students through creative teaching and mentoring and to stimulate their intellectual development. Faculty will access these dollars through a grant application process, and they may be used to enhance already robust interactions with undergraduates through new course development, research assistantships, and travel.

A Culture of Faculty–Student Connections

Yale has long maintained a commitment to undergraduate teaching. Senior faculty members teach undergraduate seminar classes, including the immensely popular freshman seminars, as well as large introductory courses. Seminars provide undergraduates with uncommon access to senior faculty, offering an intense intellectual experience that emerges from a small, selective environment dedicated to in-depth exploration of a single subject.

Similarly, many undergraduates forge close relationships with faculty members through research assistantships. And students gain insight into advanced study by working in a lab or collecting and compiling data in the field. The Oster Fund will support these ongoing initiatives as well as novel programs.

Recognizing Excellence in Teaching

Oster has worked closely with Yale College students since she joined the faculty in 1974. She received her B.A. from Hofstra University and her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard and started her career at Yale as assistant professor in the Department of Economics. She has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, including Introductory Economics, Intermediate Microeconomic Theory, Economics of Regulation, and Nonprofit Management. In 1982, she joined the Yale School of Management as an associate professor of economics and management and became a full professor in 1983. In 1988 she received the first Yale School of Management Award for Excellence in Teaching. She received the teaching award for the second time in 2008, recognized by the MBA Class of 2008 for her teaching contributions in SOM’s innovative integrated MBA curriculum. She was appointed as the Frederic D. Wolfe Professor in 1992 and was named dean in 2008.

An expert in competitive strategy, microeconomic theory, industrial organization, the economics of regulation and antitrust, and nonprofit strategy, Oster has published extensively and frequently involves students in her research. She has recently joined fellow economists and educators Karl E. Case and Ray C. Fair as a co-author of the widely used introductory economics texts, Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Economics, both currently in their 9th editions. 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.

“I am honored to be recognized as a part of something that truly sets Yale apart,” she said. “It is heartening to know that a permanent fund will exist to further connections between faculty and students.”

(November 12, 2008)

November 12, 2008