Sex-scandal dean replaced at Stanford’s elite business school

Stanford University’s elite business school will have a clean new dean. The Graduate School of Business, ranked second-best in America by U.S. News & World Report, announced Monday that economist Jonathan Levin will take over from Garth Saloner, whose affair with a professor married to another professor led him to resign the deanship.

Levin, former chair of the university’s economics department, is an expert in industrial organization. He joined the Stanford faculty in 2000. In 2011, Levin received the John Bates Clark Medal from the American Economic Association for making the most important contributions of any economist under 40 to economic thought and knowledge.

“Jonathan is an outstanding teacher, a skilled and innovative administrator, and a brilliant scholar who has deep understanding of both the academic enterprise and the workings of industry and government,” Stanford Provost John Etchemendy said in a press release Monday. “He brings a vision for the future of management education that is rooted in his extensive scholarship on the evolving needs of a global business community.”

Levin takes over the deanship Sept. 1.

Saloner announced his resignation last September, as revelations about his relationship with professor Deborah Gruenfeld were about to hit the news media. Gruenfeld’s husband, former Stanford GSB professor Jim Phills, had filed a lawsuit against Saloner and Stanford alleging Saloner had railroaded him out of the business school while carrying on with his wife.

Lurid details of Saloner’s relationship with Gruenfeld made public via the court record spread worldwide via news stories on the Internet.

Saloner, it appears, felt a little hard done by with regard to the news media, later commiserating via Twitter with Hulk Hogan while the former wrestler was in court against Gawker alleging the news site had violated his privacy by publishing a sex tape involving Hogan.

“Never thought I’d say these words: ‘Go Hulk!’ Time to tame the ‘Wild West’ of invasion of privacy on the Internet,” tweeted Saloner, whose Twitter feed is ordinarily serious and largely Stanford-focused. Saloner also quoted, on Twitter, a comment attributed to Hogan’s legal team, referring to “the public’s disgust with the invasion of privacy disguised as journalism.”

The soon-to-be-former dean also weighed in on a $55 million award to sportscaster Erin Edwards over a secretly shot video of her nude in a hotel room, footage that was released online. “A victory for privacy on the Internet,” Saloner chirped on Twitter.

The Phills lawsuit also revealed a staff revolt against Saloner, in which a “Group of 46” current and former business school employees had called for the dean’s ouster, accusing him of presiding over a workplace particularly hostile to women and people over 40.

 

Photo: A Stanford University student walks in front of Hoover Tower on the Stanford campus. (AP/Paul Sakuma)

 

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