Cardinal All the Way

Undergrad. Professor. Department chair. Dean. And soon, Stanford’s 13th president.

May 2024

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Portrait of Jonathan Levin

Photo: Aubrie Pick

When Jonathan Levin, ’94, settles into Building 10 as Stanford’s 13th president on August 1, he’ll bring one of the longest personal connections to the university of anyone to assume the role. The first alum president since Wallace Sterling, PhD ’38—and the only with alumni parents—Levin has been on the faculty since returning to the Farm in 2000 as an assistant professor of economics, a department he later led. He’s been dean of the Graduate School of Business since 2016.

“When I was an undergraduate, Stanford opened my mind, nurtured my love for math and literature, and inspired me to pursue an academic career,” Levin told Stanford Report. “In the years since, it has given me opportunities to pursue ideas in collaboration with brilliant colleagues, teach exceptional students, and bring people together to achieve ambitious collective goals around the university.”

Jerry Yang, ’90, MS ’90, chair of the Board of Trustees, complimented Levin’s “analytical prowess” and “collaborative and optimistic working style” in a letter announcing the news. “He is consistently described by those who know him as principled, humble, authentic, thoughtful, and inspiring.”

Celebrated Scholar  

Levin is known for his work in industrial organization and market design. In 2011, he won the John Bates Clark medal, which recognizes the top economist under 40 working in the United States. Levin helped design the Federal Communications Commission’s $20 billion incentive auction to convert broadcast television spectrum to broadband wireless licenses. He also helped design the first advance market commitment to accelerate the adoption of pneumococcal vaccines, which brought together governments, NGOs, and vaccine manufacturers to subsidize and produce the vaccine for distribution. In 2021, Levin became a member of President Biden’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

‘Dean of the Year’

As leader of the GSB, Levin is credited with helping rethink how business intersects with society in realms such as sustainability, technology, democratic institutions, and global politics. His efforts have led to new partnerships between the GSB and Stanford’s other schools and institutes. In 2022, the publication Poets & Quants, which covers business education, named Levin its “Dean of the Year,” citing his stabilizing influence, recruitment of top-tier faculty, and optimistic leadership style. The publication also noted that, under his leadership, the GSB became the first major business school to publish an annual report on its diversity progress.

‘Stanford opened my mind, nurtured my love for math and literature, and inspired me to pursue an academic career.’

Role Models    

Levin’s parents, Jane (Aries) and Richard Levin, both ’68, met in a frosh English class and got better acquainted during Stanford’s study-abroad program in Florence. They married a week after graduation. Jane, who has a doctorate in English from Yale, was a stay-at-home mom and, later, taught English at Yale and led its Directed Studies frosh humanities program. Richard was a Yale economics professor and the university’s president from 1993 to 2013.

Math Lessons 

Levin double-majored in English and math. In a 2022 interview with a GSB podcast, he recalled an honors math course he took as a frosh that changed his life. The first two days, Levin said, the professor did nothing but write math on the board. By the third day, the class size had dropped by two-thirds, and the professor finally turned around to face the students. Levin described himself as “totally energized” by the process of pushing himself to make sense of the course. “I would go home and I would work so hard to try to figure stuff out.” He credited the experience with instilling in him a sense of joy about solving interesting and novel problems through research.


The eldest of four siblings, Levin has three children with his wife, Amy Levin, a physician, whom he met in high school. He enjoys running in the Foothills and climbing, hiking, and skiing with his kids. In 2021, he and his 14-year-old son trekked Mount Whitney—the country’s highest peak outside Alaska—starting at 2 a.m. and reaching the ridge just after sunrise. Two decades prior, Levin scaled Whitney with a kayak on his back and paddled his way down the Kern River. Sounds harder than that math course. 

Sam Scott is a senior writer at Stanford. Email him at

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