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Debra Satz
Photo by Richard Morgenstein

H&S Dean

Debra Satz is the Vernon R. and Lysbeth Warren Anderson Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. As a political philosopher, Satz addresses some of the most pressing questions and fundamental controversies about freedom, equality, and fairness. During her three decades at Stanford, that enduring commitment to ethical inquiry and rigorous thought has shaped—and continues to inform—everything from her research and teaching to her leadership roles and daily life. 

Satz’s research focuses on a wide variety of issues, including the ethical limits of markets, the nature of and justifications for equality, and the distribution of educational opportunity. She is the author of several books, including Why Some Things Should Not Be For Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets (Oxford University Press, 2010) and Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy, and Public Policy (with Dan Hausman and Michael McPherson) (Cambridge University Press, 2017), as well as numerous articles, essays, and reviews. She was the first woman editor of the journal Philosophy and Public Affairs and continues to serve on the journal's editorial board. Satz is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is the current president of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association. 

Satz’s dedication to promoting the lifelong value of engaging with the humanities and liberal arts extends into her leadership roles. As senior associate dean for the humanities and arts from 2010 to 2017, she helped lead a number of initiatives to ensure that all undergraduates have meaningful engagement with the humanities and arts and to offer doctoral students better resources for exploring their futures. The Stanford Summer Humanities Institute, Humanities Core, and Stanford-City College of New York Exchange are three of the many ongoing humanities initiatives that began under her leadership. 

As a devoted teacher, Satz has always been deeply invested in the moral, civic, and intellectual development of undergraduate and graduate students. She is a recipient of the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, Stanford’s highest teaching award. Currently, she is a Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. 

Satz served as chair of the Stanford Faculty Senate from 2016 to 2017 and from 2009 to 2018 was the faculty director of the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society. Along with professor of political science Rob Reich, she co-founded the Hope House Scholars program, in which Stanford faculty and students teach college-level humanities courses at a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility for women.

A New York City native and first-generation college student, Satz earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from City College of New York followed by a doctorate in philosophy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Satz joined Stanford in 1988 as an assistant professor of philosophy after beginning her teaching career as a lecturer at Harvard University and an assistant professor at Swarthmore College. She became the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society, professor of philosophy and professor, by courtesy, of political science in 2007.

Satz is committed to promoting and deepening foundational and applied research across the school. She works to leverage the strengths of H&S faculty, students, and staff to help the school confront the challenges—and seize the opportunities—of our complex and rapidly changing world.

The Vernon R. and Lysbeth Warren Anderson Dean in the School of Humanities and Sciences was established in June 1997 by Stanford alumni Vernon R., B.S. ’53, M.B.A. ’57 and Lysbeth Warren Anderson, ’54. The Andersons felt strongly that the dean of humanities and sciences should have the means to support innovation and strategic planning at the school. Reflecting this interest, the full payout of the deanship fund is available to the dean as a discretionary fund to support new ventures and special initiatives.