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Instructors in accounting and operations management recognized at annual teaching awards

Teachers of the Year Anna Costello and Rodrigo Verdi have made accounting exciting, according to the students who nominated them as part of the 25th annual MIT Sloan Excellence in Teaching Awards.

The two honorees were recognized — along with Outstanding Teacher of the Year Zeynep Ton, Outstanding Teaching Assistant Kimon Drakopoulos, and Jamieson Prize Winners Dimitris Bertsimas and Otto Scharmer — May 4 at a special luncheon organized by the Student Life Office and Sloan Educational Services.

Students nominate instructors for the awards and final recipients are chosen based on the quantity and quality of their nominations.

MIT Sloan Dean David Schmittlein, who presented the awards, quoted from several nominations of Verdi, an associate professor of accounting.

“Over and over, Rodrigo’s nominators told us about his incredible ability to take potentially dry and intimidating topics and bring them to life,” he said.

Costello, an assistant professor of accounting who teaches financial accounting, was lauded for her “infectious enthusiasm, passion for the subject, and deep commitment to her students,” as well as her “excellent dance moves” at the Brazilian C-Function.

Ton, an adjunct associate professor of operations management, was awarded the Outstanding Teacher Award, an honor she also won in 2012 and 2013.

“We’re glad to see her back,” said Schmittlein, who read from several of her nominations that lauded Ton’s “energy, passion, and management skills.”

“I think it’s easy to be passionate about what you do when you have students like this,” Ton said.

Bertsimas and Scharmer won the Jamieson Prize, the school’s most prestigious teaching prize, for their respective years of dedication and impact at MIT Sloan. The prize was established in 2006 and is awarded each year to two MIT Sloan faculty members, as well as two electrical engineering and computer science faculty members, for their contributions to educational excellence at MIT.

The awards are funded by a gift from J. Burgess Jamieson, SB ’52, and his wife, Libby.

In recognizing Bertsimas, the Boeing Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management, a professor of operations research, and the co-director of the Operations Research Center at MIT, Schmittlein praised his “dedication, passion, and his innovative thinking.”

Bertsimas, who has taught at MIT Sloan for 30 years, said he was especially pleased to be honored for his dedication to students.

“To get an award that … recognizes what I consider the most important is particularly valuable,” he said.

Schmittlein commended Scharmer, a senior lecturer, for his “long-standing and broad impact at the school” and his work on U.Lab, a hybrid learning platform. Scharmer also thanked the students as his “main source” of inspiration.

“Mostly, I really feel a profound sense of gratitude for being able to work at this great institution,” he said.

Kimon Drakopoulos, a doctoral student in electrical engineering and computer science and a teaching assistant, was honored with the Outstanding TA Award for his work in assistant professor Itai Ashlagi’s System Optimization and Analysis for Operations class.

Shivani Kumar, MBA ’15, and Ben Strauss, MBA ’16, presented Drakopoulos with his award, and noted that his nominators said he “broke down complicated concepts and explained them clearly, methodically, and thoughtfully.”

Drakopoulos thanked the students in his class, as well as Ashlagi, whom he called a supportive and motivating mentor.

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