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School Updates

7 Rice Business professors recognized as 2021 Teaching Excellence Award winners

by Avery Ruxer Franklin

Seven members of the Jones Graduate School of Business faculty were recognized for excellence in teaching at Rice University’s May 14 investiture ceremony at Rice Stadium. Honorees were chosen by the Rice MBA alumni group as well as by students in the Jones School’s MBA programs.

Brian Akins, associate professor of accounting, received the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching. Akins teaches financial accounting in the full-time and professional MBA programs as well as the Ph.D. program. His research focuses on financial reporting quality and the impact of accounting in debt and equity market settings.

Karthik Balakrishnan, associate professor of accounting, was honored with the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business MBA for Professionals Weekend Award for Teaching Excellence. His research investigates the economic consequences of corporate disclosure, financial reporting and disclosure regulations. Balakrishnan also is a recipient of the London Business School Excellence in Teaching Award.

The inaugural MBA@Rice Section Award for Teaching Excellence was presented to John Buffington, lecturer in management and finance. He is a senior forensic economist at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, where he investigates incidents that involve elements of fraud, disruptive trading, market manipulation or spoofing within the commodity markets.

Al Danto, lecturer in management, entrepreneurship and information technology, received the inaugural MBA@Rice Lead Award for Teaching Excellence. Danto is managing partner of the Danto Group, which advises the owners of privately held companies on developing and completing exit strategies, valuations and due diligence representation. Danto has previously won the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business MBA for Executives Award for Teaching Excellence.

Balaji Koka, associate professor of strategic management, received the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business Full-Time MBA Award for Teaching Excellence. Koka joined Rice Business in 2008 and teaches in the Executive MBA and Full-time MBA programs. He also received the Teaching Excellence Award from the EMBA program in 2014.

Kunal Sachdeva, assistant professor of finance, received the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business MBA for Professionals Evening Award for Teaching Excellence. In 2020, he won the 2020 Moskowitz Prize from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Prior to joining Rice, he completed a Ph.D. in finance from Columbia Business School and previously graduated from the MIT Sloan School of Management with a Master of Finance degree.

The Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business MBA for Executives Award for Teaching Excellence was presented to Shiva Sivaramakrishnan, the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Accounting. He joined Rice in 2012 and has taught courses in management accounting and financial reporting for undergraduate, graduate, MBA and Executive MBA programs.

For more information about Rice Business faculty and their teaching and research, go to

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