President to delay Provost selection until Special Committee’s investigation concludes

May 24, 2023, 1:01 a.m.

The University announced Tuesday the formation of the Provostial Search Advisory Committee, which will support the search for Persis Drell’s successor as provost.

The Committee will recommend candidates to Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, who originally selected Drell as provost. Tessier-Lavigne informed the committee that he will not select the next provost until the conclusion of the Board of Trustees’ investigation into allegations of research misconduct in papers he co-authored.

“The President is showing respect for the process of the Board of Trustees,” university spokesperson Dee Mostofi wrote on Tessier-Lavigne’s decision to delay selection.

On May 3, Drell announced her resignation from the post starting in the 2023-24 academic year, after serving in the position for six years. The provost serves as the University’s chief budgetary and academic officer, with duties over the administration of research and instruction. Deans from Stanford’s seven schools and offices such as Admission and Financial Aid, Religious & Spiritual Life and Graduate Education report to the provost.

Lawrence Berg, a fourth-year chemistry Ph.D. student and Faculty Senate representative of the Graduate Student Council, wrote in a statement to The Daily that many graduate students would value “honesty, transparency and urgency” in the next provost.

“A provost committed to improving student wellbeing in the material sense is deeply needed at such a transformative time at the university,” Berg wrote in reference to the simultaneous divisions over discussions on the Honor Code, purported academic malfeasance from the Stanford president and unionization efforts from graduate workers and Stanford hospital residents.

Undergraduate Senator Gordon Allen ’26, in a statement, said that it would be important for Drell’s successor to have “experience in advocating for underprivileged groups in some capacity … Specifically, the provost having either experience or willingness to support the empowerment and resource creation for BIPOC, Queer, and FLI students.”

The Advisory Committee, predominantly composed of faculty, is chaired by Debra Satz, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences and the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society. Satz will be serving on the committee alongside seven fellow faculty members, an administrator, an undergraduate student, a graduate student and a postdoctoral student.

Selection of the provost has always been faculty-led, according to university spokesperson Dee Mostofi.

“The faculty have oversight of academic matters. Accordingly, the faculty have the responsibility for selecting the chief academic and budget officer,” Mostofi wrote to The Daily.

When asked about where student members are positioned on the Committee, Mostofi wrote that “students have an equal voice at the table,” but did not specify what decision-making power they hold.

Shared governance between students and faculty, in addition to affordability and broad community advocacy, was something that Allen also said should be a priority for the Committee.

“It is my hope that the provost search committee considers candidates that embody a passion for shared governance between faculty and students as well as a passion for implementing policies that have affordability at the forefront,” Allen wrote.

A recent email from Satz to members of the Stanford community solicited input from students, faculty and other community members in the selection process, asking for written responses regarding which tenured faculty member(s) should serve as the next provost.

In its email to the Stanford community, the Committee said it intends “to work expeditiously to make recommendations to the president.”

“We are confident that, with participation from the community, we will be able to find the best person to be Stanford’s next provost,” the email read.

The Committee is soliciting feedback from members of the community until June 6. Feedback and nominations can be submitted by emailing [email protected].

Sebastian Strawser ‘26 is an Opinions contributor. He also writes for Humor and The Grind. His interests include political philosophy, capybaras and Filipino food. Contact Sebastian at sstrawser 'at'

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