IRL: A big "thank you" for Thaler

Catherine Napier, Class of 2018

Catherine Napier, Class of 2018

In real life, 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 the income and substitution effects in Hurst’s supplemental notes. Wish me luck this quarter).

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

As Professor Thaler walked in to our Choice Architecture in Practice class, our fellow professors Linnea Gandhi, Rachelle Martino, and Yiwei Zhang created a slideshow of his career to the tune of Queen’s “We Are the Champions”. They shared cake with the class (with the iconic Nudge symbol) and toasted his accomplishments with champagne and cashews (a Thaler favorite). The slideshow included photos of Thaler and “Danny” (as Thaler calls Daniel Kahneman, a fellow Nobel laureate), and Thaler and Selena Gomez (who both starred in a scene together in “The Big Short”).

If it weren’t for Queen and the champagne (Selena has come up before), you almost wouldn’t have known Professor Thaler had won a Nobel Prize. Our presentations went on, 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 addition to our class, the entire Booth community felt a part of Thaler’s win. That is both a testament to the University of Chicago and to Professor Thaler. 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, and for showing up to class last Monday night.

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. In real life, the University of Chicago is the most special university there is.