STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS — Citing his approachability, excellent teaching skills, and tireless efforts to instill a sense of community, David Larcker was honored with the 2010 Faculty Distinguished Service Award, bestowed by PhD students at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
“What defines Dave as an exceptional professor is not what you see when you first meet him, but when you get to know him, when you work with him, when you confide in him, and when you learn from him,” said Eric So, one of three doctoral students who introduced Larcker at a May 17 ceremony.
Larcker is the James Irvin Miller Professor of Accounting, although those who meet him for the first time would never guess he’s an accountant — “Perhaps a football coach or a motorcycle repairman,” So said, eliciting chuckles and nods from assembled guests in acknowledgement of Larcker’s athletic appearance and well-known love of motorcycles.
“Dave is an excellent teacher, and possesses the ability to transform nuance and complex ideas into smaller digestible building blocks, which together form the foundation for a vigorous, holistic approach to learning,” So said, quoting a nomination from one of his classmates.
“His door is always open,” said PhD student Gaizka Ormazabal, “You can go there and talk about anything, tell about crazy research ideas you have, and he’ll listen. You can send him email over the weekend and amazingly he replies — over the weekend.” Just as important, “He’s all about fun. He knows that to be productive you have to have fun also in your work.”
Suhas Sridharan said when she was an incoming student, people advised her to talk to other students who could show her the ropes in the program. “Every single accounting student I talked to said to talk to Dave. He’s the coolest professor, and he’s really great to work with,” she said. In addition to his friendliness and willingness to listen, “He pushes you to look outside the traditional parameters of what is accounting. When I took a class with Dave in the winter we read sociology and psychology and talked about ways to apply that to more traditional accounting ideas. I think that’s unique and really important to PhD students to not be confined in their thinking.”
The PhD Faculty Distinguished Service Award, now in its 12th year, recognizes the faculty member who has contributed to the PhD community in a way that has significantly enhanced students’ intellectual and professional development, such as exceptional teaching, exceptional advising, significant curriculum development, and other activities that contribute positively to the PhD experience. “That’s the formal definition. But the formal definition doesn’t come close to doing justice to the role. That’s why it’s called a ‘service’ award rather than a ‘teaching’ award,” said Garth Saloner, Phillip H. Knight Professor and Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “The role of the PhD faculty member is to help a young scholar make the transition from student to peer.”
Larcker’s research interests focus on executive compensation, corporate governance, managerial accounting, and applied econometrics. He is director of the Corporate Governance Research Program and codirector of the Directors’ Consortium Executive Program at the business school; he also co-directs the multidisciplinary Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford.
Prior to coming to Stanford GSB in 2005, Larcker was the Ernst & Young Professor of Accounting at Wharton for two decades. He also served on the faculty at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He received his PhD in business from the University of Kansas, and his BS and MS in engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla.
“David is dedicated to excellence, but he also really cares — both about institutions and about people,” said Dean Saloner, “and it is that, ultimately, that makes him a great PhD advisor, mentor, and coach.”
– Helen K. Chang