Here’s what happened at Stanford during Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s seven-year reign

Marc Tessier-Lavigne. Stanford photo.

During Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s seven years as Stanford president, the university made a lot of headlines, often unpleasant ones. 

• Tessier-Lavigne was accused in November 2022 of academic dishonesty. He initially disputed the allegation, but an independent review found flaws in some papers he authored. 

• In March 2023, Stanford law students heckled a conservative federal judge, Stuart Kyle Duncan, who had been invited to campus to talk about issues including Covid, Twitter and guns. The heckling only got worse when Duncan asked a law school associate dean to keep order. Tessier-Lavigne and law school Dean Jenny Martinez sent Duncan an apology. Video of the episode went viral and became a major topic on cable news.

• A husband-and-wife team of Stanford law professors allegedly provided legal advice to their son, disgraced crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried, who was arrested in December 2022 and is awaiting trial at their home under house arrest. 

• The university is fighting lawsuits over the deaths of two students — soccer star Katie Meyer, who took her life in February 2022, apparently after learning she would be the focus of school discipline, and Eitan Michael Weiner, who died from a drug overdose in a bathroom stall at the Theta Delta Chi fraternity house in January 2020. 

• Fraternity Theta Delta Chi (TDX) was shut down in March 2021, after Weiner’s death. A group of TDX alumni sued Stanford and lost in a ruling by Judge Mary Arand on July 10. 

• In December 2020, a 13-page guide was published by the university’s IT department to eliminate harmful language on Stanford’s website. Terms included “cakewalk,” “landlord” and “American.” 

• Favoritism in the admissions process was laid bare when a now-former sailing coach, John Vandemoer, pleaded guilty in March 2019 to arranging $270,000 in bribes to the Stanford sailing program on behalf of two students. 

• This March, a university employee, Jennifer Ann Gries, was arrested for allegedly lying about being raped twice on campus in 2022. 

• Tessier-Lavinge and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were among 85% of Faculty Senate members in November 2020 who condemned Dr. Scott Atlas, President Trump’s science advisor in 2020 who made a number of controversial statements about Covid, such as saying masking doesn’t work in curbing the spread of the disease. 

• In November 2019, Stanford withdrew its application for a growth permit after Santa Clara County planned to add conditions to the permit that would force the university to fully mitigate the impact the expansion would have on traffic and housing. 

• Before withdrawing its application in Santa Clara County, Stanford sued the county over an ordinance that would have forced the university to build a certain amount of housing as part of its expansion. The ordinance was upheld by U.S. District Judge Beth Freeman on Oct. 10, 2019. Although Stanford appealed the ruling and ultimately dropped it, the growth permit was withdrawn a few weeks later. 

• In 2016, Stanford got approval to build a campus, but no housing, for about 7,500 employees in Redwood City. In 2019, the university bought a 175-unit apartment complex. 

• Tessier-Lavigne apologized last year on behalf of the university for capping the number of Jewish students it admitted in the 1950s. However, the university took no other action.


  1. The Daily Post neglected to include, in the list above, the property tax exemption case Stanford University filed in 2021 under the educational use exemption provisions clause. They were seeking a tax discount of 25% on the land the university leases beneath their properties, claiming it is used for housing faculty members of the university. Stanford owns over 8000 acres. They are NOT required to pay tax on approximately 16 billion in holdings in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties The university owns over 1200 single family homes. County tax assessors have reassessed several homes owned by the university but Stanford insists it isn’t required to pay the reassessment under the educational use tax exemption rule.

    • @maxBS, the tax question you attempt to describe was taken to court by Stanford and a judge will decide. How is taking a tax issue to court somehow a black mark on Tessier-Lavigne‘a record? That seems like an appropriate way to resolve such an issue. @maxBS, what’s your real issue? It surely can’t be this normal court procedure.

  2. The Stanford Faculty Senate owes Dr. Atlas an apology. Atlas was right on masks. Cochrane Reviews, which are the gold standard of systematic reviews and meta-analyses, reported regarding “medical/surgical masks” in “Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses” that “Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of influenza-like illness (ILI)/COVID-19 compared to not wearing masks (risk ratio (RR) 0.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.84 to 1.09; 9 trials, 276,917 participants; moderate-certainty evidence. Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of laboratory-confirmed influenza/SARS-CoV-2 compared to not wearing masks (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.42; 6 trials, 13,919 participants; moderate-certainty evidence).” If more evidence is needed, there are at least 170 more studies that say the same thing. Search “More than 170 Comparative Studies and Articles on Mask Ineffectiveness and Harms” and do not accept Google’s suggestion to change your search results from ineffective to effective.

  3. Atlas was a board certified radiologist until his certification lapsed in 2017; he has no education or research background in infectious diseases. If it was up to Atlas, he would willfully recommend open heart surgeons and their nursing staff avoid wearing medical face masks and surgical gloves when performing this type of surgery. Atlas was appointed by Trump and having done so, it was commonly understood that he was Trump’s version of Doctor Mengele.

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