Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Stanford B-School "Affair" Coming to an End

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business today (May 23) named the former chair of the university’s economics department as its next dean. Jonathan Levin, the son of former Yale University President Rick Levin, takes over the job on Sept. 1, succeeding Garth Saloner who announced in September that he would step down from his job at the end of this academic year...

Levin clearly will have his work cut out for him. Stanford fell to second in U.S. News & World Report‘s ranking this year, the first time in seven years that the school failed to hold first place on its own or in a tie with another school. Aside from the school’s fall in a key ranking, Levin will take over a business school that has been embroiled in a headline-grabbing controversy through much of last fall when news broke that Saloner, now 61, was having an affair with a GSB professor, Deborah Gruenfeld, who was married to another professor at the school. (see Stanford Confidential: Sex, Lies and Loathing At The World’s No. 1 Business School). Even worse, Saloner remained involved in personnel decisions directly impacting the husband, Jim Phills, who brought a lawsuit against the university alleging that he was unfairly dismissed.

Some 46 current and former GSB staffers, moreover, accused Saloner of disrupting the collegial, close-knit culture of the school and turning it into an environment of fear and intimidation, where the back-stabbing politics were so thick that few would dare challenge the dean. Those current and former employees had unsuccessfully urged the university not to reappoint Saloner to a second term, claiming that he created a “hostile workplace” in which staff, particularly women and people over 40, were hounded out of jobs and roles amid numerous violations of Stanford’s Code of Conduct and HR policies (see Anatomy Of A Rebellion: Inside The Revolt Against Stanford GSB Dean Garth Saloner). For Levin, job number one will be to restore that collegial culture at a school whose lofty mission is proudly proclaimed to “change lives, change organizations, change the world.”...

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