Stanford business school dean resigns amid lawsuit

Garth Saloner, dean of Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, will step down at the end of the current academic year amid an ongoing lawsuit involving a current and former faculty member, the university said Monday.

"As many of you know, the university and I have been vigorously defending a baseless and protracted lawsuit related to a contentious divorce between a current and former member of our faculty," he wrote in an email to faculty, staff and students. "I have become increasingly concerned that the ongoing litigation and growing media interest will distract all of you from the important work that you are doing and unfairly impact this stellar school's deserved reputation."

Garth Saloner, dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2011.
Tony Avelar | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Saloner, who had served as dean of the prestigious business school since 2009, will stay on as a teacher and researcher. He led the adoption of a new MBA curriculum and the start of entrepreneurship programs in developing nations, among other initiatives, during his tenure.

"It is with great regret that I accept Garth's resignation, which I know was a difficult decision," said Stanford President John L. Hennessy, in a statement. "We are grateful to Garth for his service and his many contributions as dean, and look forward to his continued contributions to teaching and research at the GSB for many years to come."

The wrongful termination lawsuit Saloner referenced was filed by fired business school professor James Phills, who is getting divorced from a current professor. Saloner and Phills' wife, who the university did not name, began a relationship after the couple separated.

In a statement, Stanford said it and Saloner continue to challenge the lawsuit.

"At all times Dr. Phills was treated fairly and equitably. Dr. Phills' teaching position at Stanford was terminated in 2015 when he failed to return to his university employment after the university had granted him multiple leaves of absence for lucrative opportunities in Silicon Valley, including leaves to work at Apple Inc., beyond what is normally allowed under university policy," Stanford said.

On Monday afternoon, a Poets and Quants report suggested the legal proceedings have detailed a wider culture of discrimination and sexism at the school during his tenure.

Saloner did not immediately respond to a request to comment.