1985 Metcalf Cup & Prize

Ralph B. D’Agostino, CLA

ralph-dagostinoProfessor Ralph D’Agostino has the unmistakable mark of a great teacher: he so inspires and intrigues students that they enjoy the hard work required by his demanding subject. One student put it this way, “For awhile I thought the class was easy, but one day I realized that I had taken in a vast amount of knowledge with relative ease.”

For twenty years Professor D’Agostino has taught statistics in ways that combine deep learning with lucidity and humor. Students who enter his classroom with trepidation leave with astonished confidence: “Professor D’Agostino made it possible for me to understand statistics, something that I thought was impossible.” “Professor D’Agostino’s clarity, obvious intelligence, patience, and wry sense of humor has changed my attitude towards statistics from acceptance to enjoyment.” “I now enjoy, and enjoy using, statistics—something that I had never before imagined.” Anyone who has studied the subject knows that the statistical probability of students saying such things about a statistics course is infinitesimally small: it is obvious that something remarkable happens in Professor D’Agostino’s classroom.

Professor D’Agostino’s success follows from his willingness to give students not just his knowledge but his time. Despite a productive career as a scholar and researcher, despite a range of administrative and professional responsibilities that by themselves would make a full-time job for a less dedicated and energetic man, Ralph D’Agostino always finds time for his students. And his students not only include those in his classes, but also the scores of Boston University students and faculty members who consult him whenever they have a problem in statistics. Every inquirer, from freshman to faculty colleague, receives his painstaking attention and his thoughtful assistance.

Professor D’Agostino was graduated from Boston University summa cum laude and returned to his Alma Mater as a member of the faculty. Now once again he has earned its highest honors, this time for excellence in teaching.