Garth Saloner, dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business since 2009, announced in early September that he will step down at the end of the current academic year. The abrupt announcement came after public disclosure of a lawsuit against Saloner and the university brought by a former GSB faculty member.

James Phills, a professor at the GSB from 2000 to 2014 and former director of the Stanford Center for Social Innovation, alleges in the civil suit that the dean’s romantic relationship with another GSB faculty member, Deborah Gruenfeld, resulted in a hostile work environment. Phills and Gruenfeld separated in 2012. Several months later, Gruenfeld and Saloner, who had been recently widowed, began their relationship, according to the dean, who disclosed the matter to Provost John Etchemendy and recused himself from decisions involving Phills or Gruenfeld. Phills was granted multiple leaves from Stanford to work at Apple University, where he is still employed. His teaching position at the GSB was terminated in April 2014.

Saloner, in a letter to the GSB community, called the lawsuit “baseless.”

“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,” Saloner said in the letter, explaining his decision to resign.

“It is with great regret that I accept Garth’s resignation, which I know was a difficult decision,” said Stanford President John Hennessy. “Under his leadership, the business school has been a leader in transforming management  education to address the world’s economic challenges.”

Saloner said he plans to remain at the GSB as a teacher and researcher. 

Professor Mary Barth has been named co-chair of the committee, appointed by Etchemendy, PhD ’82, that will conduct a search for Saloner’s successor.