My Professor Won a Nobel Prize


It was a surreal experience. I was so excited, you would have thought I won a Nobel Prize (I am obviously not on the committee’s radar – I am still trying to figure out income and substitution effects. Wish me luck this quarter).

Our class was not even sure if we would have class on the night of October 9. Of course, we would have totally understood if Professor Richard Thaler wanted the night off to celebrate his Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Nonetheless, we received an email that “class would still go on.”

As Professor Thaler walked in to our Choice Architecture in Practice class, his fellow professors played a slideshow of his career to the tune of Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” They shared cake with the class (of course with the iconic elephant artwork from the cover of Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein’s book Nudge) and toasted his accomplishments with champagne and cashews (a Thaler favorite). The slideshow included photos of Thaler "Danny" (as Thaler calls Daniel Kahneman, a fellow Nobel laureate), and Selena Gomez, who both starred in a scene together in The Big Short.

If it weren’t for Queen and the champagne, you almost wouldn’t have known Professor Thaler had won a Nobel Prize. Our presentations went on as we heard feedback from a Nobel Prize winner, but the excitement in the room was clear (as one student aptly posted on Facebook: “Champagne. Cake. And a Nobel. #whybooth”).

In real life, my professor won a Nobel Prize, and on the same day he won that Nobel Prize, he came to class to teach. A big thank you to him for making behavioral economics relatable, for helping millions save for retirement, for celebrating his win with a packed Harper Center on the Hyde Park campus, and for showing up to class that Monday night.

Read more about Professor Thaler's Nobel Prize.

 Catherine Francis Napier This blog is adapted from a story by Catherine Frances Napier, '18, that appeared in Chicago Business. Catherine is a student in the Evening MBA Program.