Carnegie Mellon University
January 12, 2021

What Makes Professor Bill Hrusa a Great Teacher?

By Ed Barr

Ed Barr
  1. Let’s start with the fact that Professor Hrusa has had office hours during the pandemic that BEGIN at 830PM. On SUNDAY NIGHT!

“I do it because of the time difference,” Bill says matter-of-factly, as if to also say, “Isn’t everyone doing this?”

Yes, the pandemic has caused some “adjustments,” as we all know.  But, some teachers don’t adjust this much.  Bill also has office hours that begin at 9PM on MONDAY NIGHTS!  In fact, he recently invited a few fixed income alumni to the first 45 minutes of a Sunday evening session with students that 55 people attended…and it lasted until 11PM!

So, what makes Bill a great teacher? You might answer that question by using this understatement, “Bill is accessible.”  Really?  Bill Hrusa defines accessibility.

  1. Some people say that preparation defines a great teacher. How’s this for preparation? After receiving his masters and PhD from Brown University in Applied Mathematics and landing a job and teaching at CMU for 18 years, he decided to “sit in on some classes and learn more about finance.”  When’s the last time you saw a tenured faculty professor sitting in a class like the rest of the students. And, doing all the homework.  And taking the all the tests????

“I took a class with David Heath, one of the pioneers in Mathematical Finance at CMU in 2001,” Bill said.  “I took a class from Steve Shreve, whom everyone knows is the master of Stochastic Calculus, and I took a class from Dmitry Kramkov, an amazing teacher.  I was going to be teaching in the BSCF program and wanted to be on top of my game at all times.”

So what makes Bill a great teacher? You might say preparation.  Really?  Bill defines preparation.

“I always ask myself, ‘What do the students know and what do they need to know?’” Bill said. “I look at the material and the classroom experience through their eyes. I emphasize what’s important to them. I also talk to the BSCF and MSCF alumni. I ask them what the students need to know to get the internship offers and the jobs.  Things change and the alumni counsel me on the important ways to modify the curriculum.”

  1. So, what makes Bill a great teacher? You might say commitment to the students.  Really? Bill defines commitment. Take a look on com and see what his students have said:

“(Bill Hrusa is) hands down the best professor I've had at CMU. Not only is he an amazing lecturer but he truly cares about students and would go far and beyond to help them. He is also extremely committed to his course, going out of his way to make extra office hours and sending us tons of emails regarding updates. CMU is truly lucky to have a professor like him.”

“You can’t graduate from CMU without going through this man's class. Amazing.”

He's the best professor out there. Incredibly dedicated to the course and hilarious.

“Undoubtedly the best instructor at this institution. His commitment to the course and to students is unparalleled.”

Let’s repeat that last one: “His commitment to the course and to students is unparalleled.”

Bill is always striving to give the students more opportunities.  This year, in the midst of the lockdown, he floated a new opportunity to the MSCF program, The Trading Club. He had had excellent experience with a similar program with the BSCFs and thought it would work well for the grad students, so he told the MSCF Steering Committee.

“To get the call back after an internship,” Bill said, “the students must know how to make a strong presentation on the job.  The Trading Club gives them an opportunity to take an investment opportunity and pitch it in front of other students.  We give them immediate feedback and tips for making the pitch stronger.”

Of course, this very popular session takes place on Monday nights from 6pm to 730PM, a voluntary activity for the students and the teacher. And, remember, his office hours on Mondays begin at 9PM, after Trading Club.

Why does this man give so much to the students?

“I have been blessed in my life with so much,” Bill says, “that I want to give back.  The most valuable commodity I possess is time. I will give my time to students as long as I am able.”

So what makes Bill a great teacher?  It isn’t hard to see. Bill is accessible; he is prepared; and, he is committed.  But, more than that, Bill loves what he’s doing.

“I have great respect for the students and love for what I’m doing,” he says. “I want to have the legacy, that I have given the students all of the time they need to learn the knowledge that will help them in their careers.”

Bill, your legacy is assured. You are truly a great teacher!

Ed Barr
MSCF Communication Coach