As a historian of ancient Rome, Richard Saller devotes much of his time to examining social, cultural, and economic changes from ancient times to the present. Whether in his research or in the classroom, Dean Saller strives to draw connections, asking himself—and his students and fellow scholars—how the past can illuminate the modern world.
Saller’s research on Roman history concentrates in particular on patronage relations, the family, and the imperial economy. He uses ancient literary, legal, and epigraphic materials along with current social science theory to investigate issues of social hierarchy, gender distinctions, and economic production.
At Stanford, Saller invites undergraduate and graduate students to engage with the same fundamental questions that he confronts in his research. In courses such as Family, Gender, and Production in Ancient Rome and The Roman Empire: Its Grandeur and Fall, he teaches young scholars how to understand the intricacies of ancient history and apply that knowledge to their perception of contemporary society.
Saller came to Stanford in 2007 with years of experience as a teacher and a leader. After earning bachelor of arts degrees in Greek and history from the University of Illinois and a doctorate from Cambridge University, he taught at Swarthmore College. From there he went to the University of Chicago, where he served as a professor, the dean of the Social Sciences Division, and provost over the course of 22 years.
In his current administrative role as dean, Saller draws inspiration from his research and his students as he strives to position the School of Humanities and Sciences to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Whether working in his office, surrounded by bookshelves lined with Ancient Greek and Latin texts, or teaching in the classroom, Dean Saller reflects on the past as he works to influence the future.