Debra Satz, philosopher and professor, named dean of School of Humanities

May 22, 2018, 12:08 a.m.

Debra Satz, philosopher and Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society, has been named the next dean of Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences, Provost Persis Drell announced Monday.

“I am so pleased that Debra will lead Humanities and Sciences at this juncture, as we look to more deeply leverage all of the school’s strengths in our vision for Stanford’s future,” Drell said in an interview with Stanford News.

Previously, Satz served as chair of the Stanford Faculty Senate in the 2016-2017 academic year and was the faculty director of the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society from 2008 to 2015. As faculty director, she led initiatives to explore the ethics of issues such as food, the environment and war.

Drell praised Satz as “a stellar humanist and visionary” and “a dedicated, demonstrated leader.” Search committee chair Professor Aron Rodrigue commended Satz’s “integrity, commitment and devotion to all aspects of the academic enterprise.”

Satz’s full title, which she will assume on Sept. 1, is the Vernon R. and Lysbeth Warren Anderson Dean. Her predecessor, Richard Saller, has served as the dean since 2007. Saller announced his decision to step down and return to full-time teaching in October 2017.

The School of Humanities and Sciences is the largest of Stanford’s seven schools. It employs over 550 faculty members to teach 4,800 undergraduate and graduate students. Among the 23 departments covered by the School are English, music, history, economics and physics.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of faculty across the school,” Satz said. “Our school also contains extraordinary teachers, a wonderful and committed staff, enthusiastic students who want to change the world and alumni who are doing so.”

A first-generation college student, Satz graduated from City College of New York in 1978 with a B.A. in philosophy. She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987.

Satz joined Stanford as an assistant professor of philosophy in 1988. She became the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society in 2007, a role that encompassed philosophy and, by courtesy, political science.

Satz’s work in political philosophy focuses on the ethical limits of markets, interpretations of equality of opportunity and the nature of rational choice.

In addition to writing numerous articles on philosophy, Satz has published several books, including “Why Some Things Should Not Be For Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets” (2010) and “Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy and Public Policy” (2017), which she co-authored with Dan Hausman of the University of Wisconsin and Michael McPherson, formerly of the Spencer Foundation.

In 2004, Satz received Stanford’s Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching for “her extraordinary teaching that combines the importance of rigorous thought with serious engagement in the moral dilemmas facing humanity.” More recently, she was also named to the 2018 Class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences last month.


Jacob Nierenberg at jhn2017 ‘at’

Jacob Nierenberg '17 is a coterm pursuing an M.A. in Communication on the Journalism track. The program is very busy and often precludes him from writing for The Daily, but he enjoys contributing stories and music reviews when he is able to. Prior to beginning the program, he completed a B.A. in American Studies. His hobbies include spending time with friends and listening to music, and he is always delighted to meet people as enthusiastic about music as he is.

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