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CONTACT: Cathy Castillo, Graduate School of Business (650) 723-3157

Patell wins Distinguished Teacher Award

Professor James M. Patell has been named the Business School's 1998 Distinguished Teacher because he practices what he preaches: continuous quality improvement.

A student on the selection committee noted that Patell, who teaches Business Process Design and the MBA core course in operations, collects course ratings from students in the middle of each term, analyzes the results in class and then executes them. "This is an exhaustive commitment to continuous improvement and it really makes a difference to us students," said Jonathan Hoyt (MBA '98).

One nomination applauded Patell's detailed preparation and knowledge of his students. For example, in a class focused on health care management, Patell knew that two of his students were doctors and that one had been an emergency room doctor in Thailand several years before. He got them to draw on their experiences, which added to the richness of the discussion.

The Herbert Hoover Professor of Public and Private Management, Patell has taught at the Business School for 23 years. The student academic committee that made the Distinguished Teacher selection received about 100 nominations for 30 GSB faculty members before selecting Patell. The award was made at a noon ceremony at the Business School on May 28.

While acknowledging that he is not a "touchy feely" person, Patell nevertheless told students that "this event feels terrific." He relied on the parlance of operations management to tell the crowd, which gave him a standing ovation, that good teaching requires good execution. He shared his "seven secrets to a good class," thanking his family, fellow faculty members and the behind-the-scenes staff members who have helped him execute the highly technical audio-visual, computer and room set-ups his courses often require.

His secrets include: Work hard; have good colleagues; develop a good syllabus; integrate computer exercises and simulations; include memorable hands-on simulations like the circuit boards he made students assemble in class. Furthermore, a good course should be seasoned liberally with video clips and computer projections that illustrate key points. Finally, when all else fails, in true operations style, he relies for help on the "expediter," the Business School's administrative services manager.

Patell earned his undergraduate and master's degrees at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his doctorate at Carnegie-Mellon University. He started his teaching career as a highly regarded accounting researcher. Over the years, he has played an active role at the Business School, serving as associate dean for academic affairs from 1985 to 1991 and director of the MBA program 1986 to 1988. He also helped redesign the Public Management Program in the late 1980s. Since leaving the Dean's Office in 1991, Patell has taught the MBA core course in operations along with other courses related to manufacturing, technology and quality management. He is codirector of the Stanford Integrated Manufacturing Association, a cooperative research and industry venture with the School of Engineering.


By Cathy Castillo

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