Today in people with power do the damndest things: A Stanford University Dean was forced to resign after allegedly sleeping with a professor, firing her husband (also a professor) and saddling the university with a lawsuit from that professor husband.
In his resignation letter, according to the Daily News, Stanford’s Business school Dean Garth Saloner mentions the lawsuit brought by former Professor James Phills, who’s the estranged husband of Saloner’s alleged paramour Professor Deborah Gruenfeld.
“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 in an email to students and staff.
“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.”
Phills, now employed at Apple, is suing Stanford, where he says he was “subjected to a hostile workplace and ongoing retaliation” and harassment “because of his race, gender and marital status.” Phills says Dean Saloner and his wife’s relationship began before they were separated in 2012; school officials say it didn’t.
What a mess! Stanford officials also countered that Phillis was fired because he “took too many leaves of absence to work at nearby Silicon Valley companies,” and that he “was treated fairly and equitably.”
Dean Saloner’s resignation letter appeared the same day an expose called “Stanford Confidential: Sex, Lies And Loathing At The World’s No. 1 B-School” was published on a business school news website called Poets & Quants.
The professor with whom Saloner embarked on an affair, Deborah Gruenfeld, is a board member of LeanIn.org, the organization started by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. In an email exchange revealed in the lawsuit, Saloner advises the professor not to approach her divorce “too much” as a woman....
Details of the court dispute could be especially damaging to Stanford’s business school since they include allegations of professional and financial retribution against Gruenfeld’s husband Jim Phills, contempt for school rules and policies, and claims that the Graduate School of Business (GSB) is a hostile workplace riven by “personal agendas, favoritism, and fear.”
Ex-Dean Saloner is planning his own lawsuit against Phills, while Stanford is still trying to talk up his accomplishments outside of the bedroom. Still, the resignation seems telling.
Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.
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