Garth Saloner to step down as dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business

Garth Saloner, dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business since 2009, has announced that he will step down at the end of the current academic year in summer of 2016.

During Saloner’s six-year tenure leading one of the world’s top management schools, he has overseen the adoption of a new MBA curriculum, the opening of the sustainable Knight Management Center campus and the launching of entrepreneurship and leadership programs in developing nations. The school has raised over $500 million in private support since he became dean.

“I have decided that it is in the best interests of Stanford and the GSB, two institutions that I love, that I step down,” Saloner said in an email to the GSB community Monday at the opening of the school’s academic year.

“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,” Saloner wrote. “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.”

Saloner said he plans to return to his teaching and research as part of the school faculty, and made his announcement to allow time to plan for a smooth transition.

“It is with great regret that I accept Garth’s resignation, which I know was a difficult decision,” said Stanford President John L. Hennessy. “It has been a very successful tenure. Under his leadership, the business school has been a leader in transforming management education to address the world’s economic challenges. He has expanded its international impact and he implemented an academic vision to train insightful, principled leaders who can drive global change. 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.”

During Saloner’s tenure, the school has also raised significant private support to make investments in educational technology, launch new global programs and expand on the Stanford campus.

Construction will be completed in spring 2016 on Highland Hall, a new 150,000-square-foot residence designed to create an intellectual living environment and collaborative culture for the school’s students. The addition will add living space for 280 students, allowing all 400 first-year MBA students to live together adjacent to the school’s Knight Management Center campus.

Saloner led the effort to establish the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies in 2011. The institute, known as SEED, aims to improve the lives of people in poverty on a massive scale through entrepreneurship and innovation coaching in developing countries, including West Africa.

Saloner led the GSB 2020 strategy process that provided the foundation for advances in global programs. These include Stanford Ignite, which is now providing entrepreneurship training to innovators with non-business backgrounds in seven locations throughout the world, including India, China and Brazil. 

The school has adopted technical innovations in distance learning, including flipped classrooms and the LEAD online executive education certificate program in corporate innovation.

Saloner has also focused on programs to expand diversity at the GSB. Women comprise 41 percent of current MBA students. Women make up 54 percent of the new faculty members hired in the past two years. Four of the five GSB volunteer boards are led by women and 30 percent or more of their members are women.

The school faculty has increased by 17 percent since 2009 to 124 tenure-line faculty members. Lecturers and other teaching staff have almost doubled to 90 under Saloner’s leadership. 

In the coming year, Saloner said, he will be actively engaged in continuing the school’s progress and impact. “I thank you for your support, commitment and dedication and I will do everything I can over the next year to leave this great school in as excellent shape as it is now,” he wrote.

Provost John Etchemendy will appoint a search committee to begin the process of finding Saloner’s successor.

An economist and scholar of entrepreneurship and business strategy, Saloner has held numerous roles since he arrived at the Stanford GSB in 1990. He served as associate dean for academic affairs, and director for research and curriculum development from 1993 to 1996. In 2006, he led the Curriculum Review Committee that undertook a major overhaul of the MBA curriculum, allowing students more flexibility in customizing their coursework.

Saloner is known for his pioneering work on network effects, which underlie much of the economics of e-commerce and business. Saloner’s research focuses on issues of entrepreneurship, e-commerce, strategic management, organizational economics, competitive strategy and antitrust economics. Much of his most recent work has been devoted to understanding how firms set and change strategy, in established firms and startups.

Saloner is one of only two faculty members to have won the Distinguished Teaching Award at the Stanford Graduate School of Business twice, first in 1993 and again in 2008. He has taught courses in entrepreneurship, electronic commerce, strategic management, industry analysis and competitive strategy to undergraduates, MBA students, the MSx Program and PhD students, and in executive programs around the world.

Saloner received a BCom and MBA (with distinction) from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He received an MS in statistics, an AM in economics and a PhD in economics, business and public policy from Stanford University between 1978 and 1982. He joined the faculty of the Economics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as an assistant professor in 1982 and was promoted through the ranks to the position of tenured full professor in both the Economics Department and the Sloan School of Management.

The Stanford Graduate School of Business, with a faculty that includes three Nobel laureates, has established itself as a global leader in management education. Since its creation in 1925, the school has continued to innovate its curriculum and to build a faculty known for its cutting-edge research. It enrolls over 1,000 students in MBA, PhD and its one-year master MSx programs that enroll senior executives from around the world.

Media Contacts

Lisa Lapin, University Communications, (650) 725-8396, lapin@stanford.edu