Stanford President Announces Resignation

Marc Tessier-Lavigne will step down following an investigation into alleged research misconduct.
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Published on July 20, 2023
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  • Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced his resignation as president of Stanford University on Wednesday.
  • Tessier-Lavigne faced allegations of research misconduct, including modifying images.
  • Stanford professor Richard Saller will take over as interim president starting Sept. 1.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne is resigning from his position as president of Stanford University after the findings of a monthslong investigation into claims of research misconduct were released by the Stanford University Board of Trustees.

In a message to the community, Tessier-Lavigne reiterated that the panel investigating him "concluded I did not engage in any fraud or falsification of scientific data."

"… Although the report clearly refutes the allegations of fraud and misconduct that were made against me, for the good of the University, I have made the decision to step down as President effective August 31," he said.

Jerry Yang, chair of the Stanford University Board of Trustees, said in a statement that the board agrees that Tessier-Lavigne's resignation is in the university's best interest and that he will remain at Stanford as a tenured professor in the Department of Biology.

"In light of the report and its impact on his ability to lead Stanford, the Board decided to accept President Tessier-Lavigne's resignation," he said.

Allegations of research misconduct were first covered by The Stanford Daily, the university's student newspaper, in November. The Daily reported on claims that several papers co-authored by Tessier-Lavigne had altered images.

In response to the claims, and reactions from faculty, the Stanford University Board of Trustees assembled a committee to review the claims, involving "dozens" of interviews, forensic image specialists, and the examination of over 50,000 documents, according to the board.

While the committee concluded that Tessier-Lavigne did not personally take part in research misconduct and did not have "actual knowledge" of misconduct before the papers were published, it found evidence that members of labs directed by Tessier-Lavigne either "engaged in inappropriate manipulation of research data or engaged in deficient scientific practices," leading to "significant flaws" in those papers.

"I expect there may be an ongoing discussion about the report and its conclusions, at least in the near term, which could lead to debate about my ability to lead the University into the new academic year," Tessier-Lavigne said in his message.

"Stanford is greater than any one of us. It needs a president whose leadership is not hampered by such discussions. I, therefore, concluded that I should step down before the start of classes."

Professor Richard Saller will succeed Tessier-Lavigne and serve as interim president starting Sept. 1. Saller currently serves as the Kleinheinz family professor of European studies at Stanford and was the dean of Stanford's School of Humanities and Sciences from 2007-2018.