2020 Best Undergraduate Professors: Ronald Goodstein, Georgetown University (McDonough)

Ronald Goodstein of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business is a 2020 Poets&Quants Best Undergraduate Business School Professor

Ronald C. Goodstein, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Marketing

McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University

Many business school professors can teach research and theory. But what can take a professor to the next level is vast experience and knowledge in industry, where most undergraduate business students will end up immediately after graduation. Ronald Goodstein, an associate professor of marketing at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business has vast knowledge in both research and industry, which is why he was an easy choice for this list.

Goodstein is one of the most prolific researchers on this year’s list, with more than 4,000 Google Scholar citations. But Goodstein also has immense experience consulting and developing executive education programs for companies like Verizon, Spring, Microsoft, NASA, Johnson & Johnson, and more than a dozen others. Goodstein teaches Marketing Analytics & Strategy, Integrated Marketing Communications, and Marketing in a Globally Connected World at the McDonough School. Not surprisingly, his research focused on marketing.

Current age: 60

At current institution since what year? 1999

Education: BS University of Virginia, Ph.D. Duke University

List of courses you currently teach: Marketing Analytics & Strategy; Integrated marketing Communications; Marketing in a Globally Connected World


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I watched the late Jack Lindgren (UVa) teach and love what he did. That put teaching into my mind, but after growing brain dead in the world of retail, I knew what I loved best was college. It was not the partying (yes, I did my share), but the love of being in the classroom and learning. So, I decided that college would be my life and I have not regretted that decision for a single day.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?  My current research projects involve the study of brand equity and its (dis)advantages.  I currently have a paper ready for submission that looks at the factors that make brand extensions successful or unsuccessful.  The insight in the paper is that many of the findings from prior research in this arena may be due to ignoring marketplace realities.  That is, what academics find may be due to their methods rather than real application to the marketplace.  The second paper is a treatise that illustrates that marketplace realities that affect theory itself cannot be ignored in research.  To do so not only compromises external validity, but it also calls into question the theory itself.  In our paper, we identify what many of these realities might be and support their importance to both theory and managerial relevance.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… I’d be lost.  I love what I do!  I do some consulting and expert witness work, which keeps my foot outside the ivory tower.  But, those are “side gigs” that help fill the college fund for my two kids.  It is the teaching and research that really motivate me.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?

I care.  I teach that the job of marketing is to champion the customer.  Well, I hope that I serve as the students’ champion.  I want to maximize their learning, have them contribute to that process, and assist them beyond the classroom.  I try to do that in helping them with job search and with their work after graduation if I can.  They are “my kids,” not just the Class of whenever.  I believe in lifetime relationships.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Exhilaration

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: I wish someone had told me how motivated and smart undergraduates are.  At my first positions I taught only MBAs.  I thought that it was a badge of honor to be selected to only teach the graduate program.  But, once I was asked to teach undergraduates, I really found it more exciting because the students wanted to be in these courses and were motivated to work and learn.  I am not saying that MBAs are not, but the undergraduates took it to the next level.

Professor I most admire and why: The late Jack Lindgren (UVa).  Jack inspired me to be a professor because he showed that it is possible to learn and have fun at the same time.  He allowed students to go off topic if something in the world occurred that was relevant to our learning.  He called those days “Fridays” because they were reserved for the end of the week in a M/W/F course.  I have adopted “Fridays” as an important part of my classes, and any day can be a Friday.  Thanks Jack, you are missed.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?

I like the fact that what I teach is applicable to the world.  It is not a theory class with no relevance.  The application of psychology, sociology, and economics to the real world makes this exciting and important.

What is most challenging? 

The most challenging aspect of my teaching is keeping up with what the students know and do every day.  For instance, they are much more attuned to social media and use it all of the time.  I learn from them when we talk about applications of social media and how it is best used for marketing.  I certainly have enough knowledge to teach this, but the new apps, social media sites, etc. are something that they bring to the discussion.  They are smart and there is always something to learn from them.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Someone with passion, willing to challenge my thinking, willing to be involved in a discussion, and s/he must have a big heart.

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Free-rider

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Tough but fair.


What are your hobbies?

I love to hang out with my kids (when they let me anymore).  In addition, I love listening to music (especially jazz); exploring new restaurants (dives with great food); sports.

How will you spend your summer?

Sheltered!!!  Since March I have had Sepsis followed by Covid-19.  It has been a long three months.  I am working on research projects, taking lots of walks with my kids, doing house projects, and setting up for the possibility of online teaching for the fall.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: I am not a vacationer.  I consider what I do every day to be what I love doing.  Going away somewhere just detracts from that.  But, if I do go away, I want to go somewhere that is beautiful in terms of nature and I do not want to just sit around basking in the sun…I want to do (hike, bike, etc.).

Favorite book(s): Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (Richard Bach); Five Smooth Stones (Ann Fairbairn)

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?

I like any movie that involves a teacher/mentor.  These include Dead Poet’s Society, Goodbye Mr. Chips (Peter O’Toole version), Finding Forrester.  I also loved Shawshank Redemption and When Harry Met Sally.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?

I love most types of music (yes that includes country thanks to my daughter).  But my favorites are jazz vocals (e.g., Ella, Louie, Diana Krall, Michael Franks), R&B (e.g., Parliament Funkadelic, Luther Vandross, Earth Wind and Fire), Rock with a story to tell (e.g., CSNY, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Jackson Brown).


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Much more focus on undergraduate education. I think Georgetown has a good balance.  Yes, the MBA program is most important to the rankings, but it is the undergrads that are going to one day donate the new buildings.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Championing customers for the long run rather than focusing on short-term sales goals.  Profits accrue to those firms that win customers for a lifetime and grow together with their clients, improving profits and developing advocates for the company.

I’m grateful for… University:  The fact that McDonough cares both about teaching and research.  Whereas other top business schools may pay lip service to teaching, it is research, research, research that rules the day.  Here, it is okay to love teaching.  The research is necessary, but it is not sufficient for success at MSB. The school celebrates teaching success.  Students: I am most grateful to every student that I have connected with over the years.  You have touched my mind and my heart.  Thank you.

Faculty, students, alumni, and/or administrators say:

“As a student, if you are lucky, you will find professors that will always be in your corner and will have a lasting impact on your college experience. For me, that’s Professor Ronnie Goodstein. As a professor, Goodstein has such a special gift for connecting with students and making even those that hate marketing, love it. I took his classes during freshman and senior year, and they are some of my favorite memories from Georgetown. Goodstein’s love for teaching is so evident, and when one of us really connects with a concept, it “gives him a rush” (as he calls it) and genuinely puts him on cloud nine. So if it wasn’t obvious, there is never a dull moment in a Goodstein class: each one is filled with thought-provoking insight from his years of marketing experience, hilarious stories, and truly making us think (so much so that we aren’t allowed to have anything in front of us: we can’t take notes, and all technology has to be put away). Goodstein gets us out of the book and into the field, going beyond what we think we know about marketing to actually prepare us for our careers. He challenges us to stop worrying so much about grades and scores, and instead about internalizing the strategies we have learned and knowing how to apply them in business scenarios. And his reasons for teaching, and for his teaching style, are pure and simple: he loves marketing, he loves connecting with people, and he loves his students, and it is readily apparent each and every time he walks into the classroom. Goodstein is not only a great professor, but an amazing mentor. Truly, I don’t know when he has time to eat or sleep: he puts his entire schedule on hold for anyone who needs his help academically, professionally, or personally. Goodstein has sat with me for hours to discuss my career goals and help me find what I really love about marketing, refresh my resume and edit my LinkedIn, and make sure I was on the path to success in my career. Honestly, he helped me recognize my potential when I didn’t really believe in myself, and I could not have navigated the marketing field without him. He provides that same guidance for every student that he possibly can, whether or not they have ever taken his class. It’s just who he is. It’s because while Goodstein goes above and beyond to help us be successful in our academic life, he also goes above and beyond to get to know each of us as people – our hobbies, our goals, our dreams – because he knows that they are the aspects of us that matter the most. And with that, he believes in his students more than we ever believe in ourselves and makes us realize that we can do anything we set our minds to. When I was anxious about finding a job this year, Goodstein emailed one of his contacts, the CEO of an international marketing firm, and went out of his way to advocate for me: he was determined to help me see my potential the way that he did. When the coronavirus ended my senior year early and put our research project on hold, he was most concerned with how I was feeling about the impact on my college experience and whether my family was okay, and then made sure we were on track with our project. His selflessness speaks volumes, and it’s why, for yet another year, the class of 2020 nominated Goodstein to receive the Professor of the Year award at the McDonough School of Business’ virtual awards ceremony. Yes, he’s just that awesome. Words could never fully encompass the impact that Professor Goodstein has had on my life and on the lives of my fellow classmates. I am incredibly grateful for everything that he has done for me, and he will always be my biggest cheerleader. He is absolutely one of the best undergraduate business school professors!”

“Professor Goodstein is by far my favorite Professor at Georgetown University. I had my very first marketing class with him Freshman year, and it changed my entire college experience. I originally wanted to major in Finance, but Professor Goodstein’s teaching style and passion for marketing won me over. I have done research on whether original programs shown via streaming services are deemed more authentic than programs run on networks and if authenticity leads to better marketing outcomes for brands used as placements for the past three years with Professor Goodstein. It has been a life changing experience that allowed me to develop a deeper interest in a topic that I did not have the chance to analyze closely in my Georgetown classes. Professor Goodstein cares so much about the success of his students as well. I would not be where I am today without his guidance. Thank you so much Professor Goodstein!”

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