Richard Saller to take over as interim president in September

July 20, 2023, 9:32 p.m.

Richard Saller, professor of European Studies and former dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, will take over as interim president of Stanford University effective starting September, after President Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s resignation goes into effect on Aug. 31. The appointment was approved by the Board of Trustees on July 17. 

Tessier-Lavigne announced his resignation Wednesday, following a Stanford-sponsored investigation into the President’s widely-cited papers found manipulated research. 

According to Saller, his service as interim president will “inevitably be limited.” However, he wrote in an email to The Daily that he “aims to support Stanford’s excellence in research and teaching” while fulfilling the role. 

Currently, Saller is the Kleinheinz Family Professor of European Studies at Stanford and teaches Roman history. From 2007 to 2018, Saller served as the dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. Before Stanford, he taught and served as provost at the University of Chicago. He hopes his time as dean at Stanford will serve as a “basis of trust and confidence with the faculty,” Saller wrote.  

Trust that is well-deserved, said Adrienne Jamieson, public policy professor and director of Stanford in Washington. Jamieson wrote in an email to The Daily that as dean, Saller was an “exceptional leader.”

In an email to the student body Wednesday, Board of Trustees chair Jerry Yang wrote Saller “spearheaded a campaign [as dean] to strengthen humanities education and increase enrollment in humanities courses.” 

Jamieson echoed Yang in praising the initiatives Saller crafted and added that he did so “through the strength of great leadership, a deep understanding of the Stanford community and the full confidence and respect of faculty and students.”

Saller wrote that he’s fostered a relationship with students through teaching Roman history year after year. His students have praised his knowledge, sympathy and interest in student life. 

Fiona Clunan ’24, who is Saller’s thesis advisee, became familiar with him through an overseas seminar he co-led in Florence. 

He’s “one of those professors with a mind like an encyclopedia,” Clunan said. However, she added that he’s not only a great instructor, but “is actually incredibly kind and always willing to help.” 

Even as a faculty member, Clunan said Saller has always been truly interested in the state of student life on campus and believes that he’ll fit the interim president role well. 

“I think he has genuine care for the student experience and I’m hopeful that he’ll work to improve it while serving as president,” she wrote in an email to The Daily. 

Senan Khawaja ’24 hopes that the interim president “will take concrete action to address the widespread concerns amongst the student body and the decadent increase of bureaucracy on campus.”

Saller will officially take over as interim president at the beginning of September. According to Yang, the Board will appoint a search committee in the coming weeks to select the University’s next president. 

Saller wrote that he is preparing for this role by meeting with “past and present leaders of the University.” 

“Stanford University is a huge operation with a $9 billion budget — about 10 times larger than the first Roman emperor Augustus had for the whole empire,” Saller wrote. “I have a steep learning curve ahead of me.” 

Oriana Riley ’25 is a News Managing Editor at The Daily. Every once in a while, she drops an iconic Campus Life article. Outside of The Daily, Oriana enjoys running a lot of miles and eating a lot of food. Contact Oriana at news ‘at’

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