Pahnke and Beard win UW Distinguished Teaching Award


Leta Beard and Emily Cox Pahnke

Emily Cox Pahnke and Leta Beard, faculty members of the Foster School of Business, have received this year’s University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award.

Only seven educators across the UW system are so honored each year, and it’s the first time the Foster School has had two awardees in the same year.

Emily Cox Pahnke is an assistant professor of management who joined the Foster School in 2010 after earning BS and MBA degrees from Brigham Young University, and an MA in sociology and a PhD in management science and engineering from Stanford University.

The daughter of a globe-trekking ethnobotanist, she grew up around the world before landing in Seattle after her doctoral studies at Stanford—where she received the Industry Study Association’s Best Dissertation Award and was a finalist for the Technology and Innovation Management division of the Academy of Management’s Best Dissertation Award.

An expert in entrepreneurship and innovation, Pahnke has taught Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Grand Challenges for Entrepreneurs to Foster undergraduate students, Entrepreneurial Strategy to MBAs, and Innovation and Organizations to doctoral students.

Pahnke is known for bringing the real world into the classroom with challenging case studies and connected industry speakers. To equip her students to navigate the ambiguity germane to entrepreneurial activities, she also connects them to expert mentors and launches them into the marketplace to learn firsthand the difference between a good idea and a good business idea.

“To do that you have to throw students in,” she says. “Give them really open-ended problems that kind of freak them out.”

The value of this goes way beyond the classroom. “I cannot overstate one thing about what Professor Pahnke provides to her class: inspiration,” says Marcus Van Der Peet (BA 2015). “Not everyone can be a successful entrepreneur, but everyone can enter the work place with a passion for innovation. Professor Pahnke gives her students the confidence to act upon their creative inclinations, she teaches that even when a project is not successful, it is only a failure if you do not learn from it, she gives them the desire to pursue those things that they are passionate about, and she motivates everyone she meets to think like an entrepreneur.”

Leta Beard (BA 1978, MBA 1980) is a senior lecturer in marketing and international business. Though raised in a family of educators, she opted to follow a different path… initially. “I went into business because it was the farthest thing from teaching,” she says, laughing

After earning BA and MBA degrees from the Foster School, Beard worked for 12 years at AT&T before being called back to the family “business” and joining the Foster faculty full-time in 1996.

Today, she teaches core marketing and international business courses to undergraduates, and also helms courses through Foster’s Executive Education and Consulting and Business Development Center, and through UW Professional & Continuing Education.

Students laud her innovative, inclusive approach to learning. Her mix of methods leans heavily on the experiential—class debates, “in the news” discussions, even an elaborate world trade fair.

But what sets Beard apart is her tireless dedication to students—inside and outside of the classroom. She is faculty advisor to Undergraduate Women in Business and the UW chapter of the American Marketing Association. She leads study tours, coaches and mentors case competition teams and counsels students on international study, resume writing, interviewing and anything else they need help with.

“Leta is most deserving of this award because of her passionate involvement in academics and student development,” says Caitlin Snaring (BA 2015). “She is an outstanding mentor and inspiration to everyone she meets.”

These qualities have resulted in a long list of accolades. In recent years, Beard has received the UW American Marketing Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2015), the Ron Crockett Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2015), the UW IFC/Panhellenic Faculty of the Year Award (2010, 2011, 2014), Faculty Partner of the Year from Foster Career Services (2014), Faculty Advisor of the Year from the UW American Marketing Association (2014), Marketing and International Business Faculty of the Year (2006, 2010, 2013), the Wells Fargo Faculty Award for Undergraduate Teaching (2007, 2010), and the UW Distinguished Contribution to Lifelong Learning Award (2009).

“Teaching is my passion. It’s my love,” Beard says. “When you can help people succeed and find their passion, it’s worth all the effort.”

Pahnke and Beard represent the 11th and 12th Foster School faculty members to receive the UW Distinguished Award since its inception in 1970. Here is the complete list:

1971 – Robert “Rocky” Higgins, Professor of Finance
1974 – David Hart, Professor in Business Administration
1976 – Alan Hess, Professor of Finance and Business Economics
1983 – Gerhard Mueller, Professor of Accounting
1984 – Sharon Gailbraith, Professor of Marketing & International Business
1986 – Nicholas Binedell, Lecturer in Business Administration
1998 – Frank Rothaermel, Lecturer in Business Administration
1999 – June Morita, Senior Lecturer in Management Science
2006 – William Wells, Senior Lecturer in Accounting
2011 – Christina Ting Fong, Principal Lecturer in Management
2015 – Emily Cox Pahnke, Assistant Professor of Management
2015 – Leta Beard, Senior Lecturer in Marketing and International Business

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