Weatherhead School’s Diane Bergeron wins Diekhoff teaching award

Diane BergeronWhat makes Diane Bergeron a respected and appreciated teacher at the graduate level is her recognition of each student’s particular talents, just as a skilled manager does within a successful organization. The key, she says, is a willingness to make adjustments so the best outcome can occur.

“With MBA (Master of Business Administration) students, the teaching has to be timely, relevant and applicable—what they need to get to be successful. For the doctoral students, you have to be much more research-focused, and it’s more of a peer relationship,” said Bergeron, assistant professor in the Department of Organizational Behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management and winner of a 2013 Diekhoff Award for Distinguished Graduate Student Teaching.

The award is given each year to faculty members who make outstanding contributions to the education and development of graduate students at Case Western Reserve.

“I have found that everyone has a perspective, something to bring to the table. So teaching is about doing what you need to do to get that out of people,” Bergeron said.

Bergeron, a faculty member since 2006, teaches one class in the full-time MBA program and another in the part-time program. Both are called “Managing People in Organizations.” She said these courses are “about the people side” of an organization—reward systems, influence, social networks, power and politics.

At the PhD level, she’s responsible for the department seminar in the fall, a five-week module called Micro Organizational Behavior taught every other year, and advising doctoral students on their research projects—some of which overlap with her research interests in organizational citizenship behavior.

Bergeron credits her teaching approach to the faculty role models she works with at the Weatherhead School. She has been so focused on emulating the faculty members around her that when she learned she was selected for the Diekhoff Award, she was shocked.

“You never really know what other people think about you. It’s humbling,” she said. “The OB Department at Weatherhead is absolutely stellar.”

Her grad students think she is, too.

Phil Thompson, a PhD candidate at the Weatherhead School, has taken about 40 graduate-level courses, most of them before he arrived at Case Western Reserve. In his award nomination of Bergeron, Thompson wrote that some professors use a “cookie-cutter approach to learning.” Not Bergeron.

“During the fall 2012 semester, I took two doctoral classes with Diane Bergeron and witnessed a leader whose teaching and mentoring approach can be summed up as captivating, progressive, authentic, empathetic, innovative, transformational and, above all, remarkably effective,” Thompson wrote. “…Diane creates a classroom culture that feels more akin to a conversation, where ideas are effortlessly exchanged between professor-to-student and student-to-student, which is a rare and cherished culture, highly valued by students.”

PhD graduate student Chantal van Esch noted that a Bergeron paper about organizational citizenship behavior was particularly motivating.

“She shares this enthusiasm with her students in class as well as when talking about research outside of class,” van Esch wrote.

Bergeron thrives on engaging students about research. Then she digs deeper, finding ways to make their research vital.

“I love the research part, but I understand the students are paying for and deserve quality teaching. The way I approach it, if I’m in, I’m all in,” said Bergeron, who received a PhD in Social-Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and was as an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University and at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Her own research interests include aspects of job performance, organizational citizenship behavior, career advancement (particularly for women) and productivity. She is especially interested in professional services firms and other organizations with outcome-based systems, such as manufacturing.

Her research has been published in the Academy of Management Review, Human Performance and Journal of Management, among others, and has been presented at numerous conferences. Her work was twice published in the Best Paper Proceedings of the Academy of Management and she has won two awards from the Academy of Management for her dissertation research. At the Weatherhead School, she was awarded the Lewis-Progressive Fellowship and received the Mather Prize for women’s scholarship.

Bergeron, who previously worked for a consulting firm in New York City and at Pfizer Inc., has consulted with Fortune 500 companies in recruiting strategies, employment branding, benchmarking best practices and survey research.

She also volunteered for two years on projects related to poverty, malnutrition, teen pregnancy and childhood education in the Dominican Republic, and has worked with various nonprofit and government and non-governmental organizations. She lives in Shaker Heights with her husband and two young children.

The university created the Diekhoff Award in 1978 to recognize full-time faculty members who make exemplary contributions to the education and development of graduate students at Case Western Reserve University. The award was created in honor of John Diekhoff, who served at the university from 1956 to 1970 in roles such as professor of English, chair of the Department of English, dean of Cleveland College, acting dean of the School of Graduate Studies and vice provost of the university.

Initially, the award recognized two faculty members who excelled in teaching; in 2009, the School of Graduate Studies expanded the award to honor faculty members with strong graduate mentoring skills. The Graduate Student Senate is responsible for the entire Diekhoff award decision-making process. Members of the Mentoring and Diekhoff Committee, chaired by Mark Barnes, reviewed nominations, interviewed nominees and selected winners from a large pool of candidates.

Additional winners of the Diekhoff Award will be announced in upcoming issues of The Daily.