Pressured by investigation into toxic work culture, Cantor director resigns

Nov. 18, 2020, 9:39 p.m.

Cantor Arts Center director Susan Dackerman and deputy director James Gaddy both resigned following a months-long University investigation into the art museum’s toxic work culture. Cantor staff was informed Tuesday, and the director’s advisory board was notified today, sources close to the Cantor told The Daily. 

“Stanford and Cantor Director Susan Dackerman have mutually agreed that Dackerman will be leaving the museum,” wrote Robin Wander, arts communication director. Wander wrote only that the independent investigation looked into “specific issues.”

A separate Daily investigation published in August identified multiple current and former employees who characterized the work culture as toxic, the museum leadership as demoralizing and the University’s attempts at interventions as misguided and repeatedly unsuccessful. The Daily also found an alarming recurrence of staff turnover since Dackerman arrived at the Cantor in September 2017. 

Wander noted that “a transition team consisting of key museum contributors will be installed, with oversight from Associate Vice President for Campus Engagement Matthew Tiews and School of Humanities & Sciences Dean Debra Satz.

According to a faculty member who witnessed the process, the director’s search in 2017 was “deeply flawed.” The Cantor’s previous director, Connie Wolf, also abruptly resigned in June 2016 after four years in the role. 

It is unclear whether the University will take that criticism into account, and Wander’s statement did not provide specific details regarding the process for finding a replacement.

Contact Elena Shao at eshao98 ‘at’

Elena Shao '21 is from Suwanee, Georgia. At The Daily, she is a Managing Editor for News. Outside, she's studying political science. She also enjoys learning foreign languages and is hoping to pursue a career as an investigative and data journalist. Contact her at eshao98 'at'

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