The Tuck professors were recognized for their teaching of Capital Markets (Joseph Gerakos) and Real Estate (Brian Melzer).
The Tuck Class of 2023 has announced this year’s recipients of the annual Teaching Excellence Awards.
For teaching in the core curriculum, students chose Professor of Business Administration Joseph Gerakos D’90, who taught Capital Markets last fall. In the elective curriculum, students selected Associate Professor of Business Administration Brian Melzer, who teaches Real Estate. Gerakos won this award in 2018 for teaching the core course Managerial Accounting. This is Melzer’s first time winning the award.
The Teaching Excellence Awards were set up by the Class of 2011 to “celebrate the learning environment at Tuck by honoring the faculty who, in the eyes of their students, have made an outstanding contribution to the quality of the educational experience.” Each year, an academic representative from the graduating class surveys his or her classmates about their favorite teachers and meets with a committee to examine the comments and data and select the winners.
When Gerakos, who is also the senior associate dean for innovation and growth, learned he was selected for the award this year, he thought it was a mistake.
I was totally surprised, he says. While it was his first time teaching this course, he had two things going for him: he was filling in for his longtime coauthor Professor of Finance Juhani Linnainmaa; and he has a deep passion for capital markets, which is reflected in his research output. In effect, Gerakos was covering very familiar ground in a course taught by someone he knows quite well.
The Capital Markets course is the Tuck introductory finance course that covers the basics of finance theory and the stock and bond markets, from the perspective of investors. The course teaches students foundational knowledge about diversification, calculating present values, and the capital asset pricing model. Students leave Capital Markets prepared to take the Corporate Finance course, which focuses on financing at the firm level.
Gerakos uses the lecture format for Capital Markets and spends a lot of time making sure the students understand the material. He accomplishes this through many question-and-answer sessions, and by providing examples that make the material more concrete.
I really enjoy seeing the students start to develop intuition for what they see going on day-to-day in the stock and bond markets. That’s really fulfilling for me.
As much as the students enjoyed and appreciated Gerakos’s teaching, he also appreciated being their teacher.
I really enjoy seeing the students start to develop intuition for what they see going on day-to-day in the stock and bond markets, he says.
That’s really fulfilling for me.
Brian Melzer’s Real Estate course is a natural extension of the principles taught in Capital Markets. Instead of learning about investing in stocks and bonds, students are studying how corporations invest in the more tangible asset of real estate. Melzer has been teaching Real Estate at Tuck for five years, and also teaches the Housing elective. The Real Estate course is focused on the perspective of real estate investors, who must decide whether to buy property and how much to pay for it. The course also covers debt financing, mortgage contracts, the microeconomics of the real estate market, and corporate decision-making.
I try to keep the course broad enough to appeal not just to real estate-focused students or finance specialists, Melzer says,
but also those with an interest in consulting.
Melzer, whose research interests include household borrowing, housing investments, financial advice, and consumer financial regulation, teaches Real Estate through a mixture of lectures and cases. He uses the lectures to teach basic frameworks; in the cases, the students are seeing those frameworks in the business context. Even when he’s lecturing, he keeps the classes interactive, often starting off with a discussion of something in the news that’s related to the day’s agenda. Students often email him articles from the business press, and those stories sometimes become part of the daily discussion.
The students are interested in being knowledgeable and well rounded. That’s partly what draws us to teach: we’re curious and we like to learn, and so when you get that back from the students, it makes for a really fun environment.
The classroom atmosphere in Real Estate, like in every Tuck course, is marked by healthy and respectful debate, many questions, and a sincere engagement with the material. That’s one reason Melzer loves his job.
The students are interested in being knowledgeable and well rounded, he says.
That’s partly what draws us to teach: we’re curious and we like to learn, and so when you get that back from the students, it makes for a really fun environment.
Gerakos and Melzer, as the recipients of the Teaching Excellence Awards, will deliver the “Last Lecture” on Friends and Family Day on Friday, June 9.