Stanford's New President Announced

The Stanford trustees announced that Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of The Rockefeller University and former Stanford faculty member, will be the university's 11th president.

January/February 2016

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Stanford's New President Announced

Photo: Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service

On Thursday, February 4, Stanford introduced acclaimed neuroscientist and educator Marc Tessier-Lavigne as its next president. He will formally succeed John Hennessy on September 1, becoming Stanford’s 11th president.

Tessier-Lavigne, president at The Rockefeller University since 2011 and a former professor of biological sciences at Stanford, emphasized during an introductory press conference that his “reverence is highest for the great research universities that have had an outsized impact in accelerating the progress of civilization. . . . Stanford is one of these universities.”

Described repeatedly by members of the search committee and Board of Trustees as an open-minded individual adept at consensus building,  Tessier-Lavigne said continued achievement at Stanford must be rooted in its shared sense of purpose. “My first task will be to meet with every segment of the campus community, to listen and to learn, to immerse myself in the culture and to seek to understand the opportunities and challenges facing the university, and to hear your aspirations.”

Tessier-Lavigne, 56, was born in Ontario, Canada, and spent most of his childhood in Europe. He was the first member of his family to attend college. An outspoken defender of the value of a liberal arts education, he received undergraduate degrees in physics from McGill University and in philosophy and physiology from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He earned a PhD in physiology from University College London and did postdoctoral work there and at Columbia University. He held faculty positions at the University of California, San Francisco, and Stanford.

Part of his tenure at Stanford (2001-05) was spent on leave at Genentech, where he advanced to executive vice president for research and chief scientific officer, overseeing 1,400 scientists working on a broad range of disease research and drug discovery projects. Continuing his own research during his administrative appointments, he has focused on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as therapies for spinal cord injuries.

He and his wife, neuroscientist Mary Hynes, have three children.

Steve Denning, MBA ’78, chair of the Board of Trustees, described Tessier-Lavigne as “an exemplary leader who we believe will continue Stanford’s accelerating trajectory.”

“I am humbled and grateful,” to be Stanford’s choice, Tessier-Lavigne said, but “not daunted” by the task ahead. “I am attracted by challenges.”

Mike Antonucci is a senior writer at Stanford.

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