Stanford’s Disappearing Dean Lisa Caldera
Nowhere is the dysfunction of President Tessier-Lavigne’s administration more evident than Dean Lisa Caldera, who is the lead Dean responsible for preventing student suicides, a named defendant in the Katie Meyer wrongful death lawsuit, and the owner of a booming college admissions consulting business.
Despite a formal ethics complaint and multiple warning signs, President Tessier-Lavigne’s administration has continued to employ Dean Caldera – in fact, over the last few days Stanford has been covering up Dean Caldera’s misconduct by deleting information about her.
Here is a brief summary:
In the four years after President Tessier-Lavigne promoted Dean Caldera to Lead Residence Dean and Associate Dean of Students, at least nine students have died by suicide – a Stanford record.
Two weeks ago, Dean Caldera was named as a defendant in the Katie Meyer wrongful death lawsuit. Katie Meyer died by suicide months away from graduation following an OCS charge initiated by Dean Caldera related to a coffee spill.
Dean Caldera has posted troubling social media content including one text that read, “you can cut their face with your wedding ring.”
Dean Caldera runs a college consulting business offering “individualized college admissions assistance” for ~$4,500 an applicant.
At the time of most student suicides, Dean Caldera’s official suicide prevention credentials were expired according to her now-deleted LinkedIn.
In November 2018, Dean Caldera gave a presentation to the Stanford board on the university’s new alcohol policies. A year later Stanford had record alcohol-related hospitalizations.
Dean Caldera has alluded to financial problems and in 2018 the California Office of Tax Appeals denied her appeal over wrongfully claimed tax credits and “found no error in the FTB’s action in assessing the additional tax and interest.”
In early 2019 a Vice Provost at Stanford gave Dean Caldera a recommendation for a job at the University of California, Riverside.
In June 2020, the Stanford Ethics and Compliance helpline received a formal complaint against Dean Caldera. Stanford determined the complaint “did not fall under Stanford policy.”
In July 2020, 19 Stanford board members were made aware of the Ethics complaint against Dean Lisa Caldera. No action was taken.
In March 2022, the Stanford Ethics and Compliance helpline and the Office of Chairman Jerry Yang received a follow-up complaint about Dean Caldera. No action was taken.
Following the Katie Meyer wrongful death lawsuit, Stanford twice modified Dean Caldera’s professional page and then recently deleted most of her info and photo.
President Tessier-Lavigne’s administration continues to employ Dean Caldera as a leading administrator to “assist students in crisis.”
I first met Dean Lisa Caldera on October 22, 2019, in a room atop Tresidder Memorial Union. She had emailed me at 8:48pm the day before, just six hours after I filed a formal grievance with President Tessier-Lavigne’s administration, to set up our one-on-one meeting.
Dean Caldera’s first questions were: “Why did you copy the President and Provost on your grievance?” and “What did you think would happen?” Dean Caldera indicated they asked her to “look into” my formal, and supposedly confidential, complaint. Things went downhill quickly from there, and I left the meeting with Dean Lisa Caldera feeling deeply disturbed.
Over the next few weeks Provost Persis Drell, Dean Caldera, and a low-level administrator, Klarese Donnelly, ran a retaliation campaign against me — so much so that I ended up living in a motel during my senior year. Shortly after I received my diploma I filed a formal ethics complaint against Provost Drell, Dean Caldera, and Ms. Donnelly. It read, in part,
“The weeks after I filed my November 2, 2019 appeal with Provost Drell were the worst and toughest weeks of my life. It is difficult to put into words how desperate I was…”
In an email for my complaint, I noted that Dean Caldera’s conduct “leads to a higher likelihood that Stanford students in distress commit suicide.” The seventeen-page complaint mentioned Dean Caldera eleven times and was sent to Stanford’s Ethics Office, the Compliance Office, and Stanford’s then-Chairman Jeff Raikes. In addition, I forwarded a copy of the complaint to eight Stanford board members and President Tessier-Lavigne.
Below is a copy of my June 2020 formal Ethics Complaint email against Dean Lisa Caldera:
In response, Stanford’s Ethics and Compliance Helpline confirmed receiving my complaint against Dean Caldera:
Two weeks later, without interviewing me, the Ethics Office ended the investigation and only concluded “your claims of retaliation do not fall under the University’s Non-Retaliation policy.” Stanford never provided a reason.
On July 30, 2020, after the Ethics and Compliance Office essentially ignored my complaint, I emailed 19 Stanford board members and wrote, in bold,
“I believe the Stanford administration is preventing a real investigation because the misconduct involves senior administrators.”
No one responded. In the two years since President Tessier-Lavigne’s administration ignored my formal ethics complaints about Dean Caldera, four students under Dean Caldera died by suicide.
Following the additional deaths, I submitted another complaint about Dean Caldera to the Stanford Ethics Office, former Chairman Jeff Raikes, and the Office of Current Chairman Jerry Yang. I wrote, in bold,
“Dr. Caldera continues to violate Stanford policy and Stanford’s inaction will lead to more student suicides.”
Chairman Jerry Yang and President Tessier-Lavigne’s Administration again ignored my ethics complaint about Dean Caldera.
Dean Caldera is now the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit of Stanford soccer star Katie Meyer. That lawsuit, filed in the Santa Clara County Superior Court two weeks ago, has gained national attention and highlights questionable conduct from Dean Caldera. USA Today first reported that Dean Caldera chose to charge Katie Meyer with an Office of Community Standards violation after she spilled coffee on a football player who allegedly sexually assaulted her 17-year-old teammate. USA Today reported:
“The football player, who was not identified by name in the lawsuit, indicated throughout the disciplinary process that he would like to ‘make amends’ and did not want any punishment that would ‘impact’ Meyer’s life, according to the complaint.
Lisa Caldera, the Dean of Residential Education, brought the complaint against Meyer to Stanford’s Office of Community Standards, according to the lawsuit, which said Meyer was charged on the final possible day. A charge must be brought within six months of the occurrence and the spilled coffee occurred on August 28, 2021, according to the complaint.
Caldera and Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne are among those named as defendants.”
Katie Meyer died by suicide within hours of receiving the OCS charge letter.
Dean Lisa Caldera didn’t seem too worried about that case. In fact, just two days before Katie Meyer died by suicide, Dean Caldera was celebrating on Instagram about the success of her “college admissions assistance” consulting business. Dean Caldera wrote, in part,
“Waking up to 1 year of Caldera College Coaching & Consulting was so amazing!! Girl power, facials, and Starbucks… #CalderaCommunity”
Below is a page from Dean Caldera’s marketing material for a $4,500 package offering “intensive individualized college admissions assistance.”
Dean Caldera also had a Google Doc onboarding form for new clients and offered “a highly personalized experience.”
On Instagram, Dean Caldera has also shared a direct deposit link to her Venmo bank account so customers have “an easy way to connect to my services.”
On the intake form for Caldera College Consulting, customers can suggest time availability Monday-Sunday in the Morning, Midday, Afternoon, and Evening.
In a one-year anniversary post, Dean Caldera disclosed having about 30 clients. Another post from Caldera College Consulting shows the Stanford Women’s Softball team, a picture of athletes wearing Stanford gear, and an image of the roster. The post reads, “taking a moment to shine a light on our student-athletes.”
Dean Caldera’s relationship with Stanford athletics may be helpful for her other jobs. In addition to being a Stanford Dean, running a blossoming college admissions business, and being a content creator and freelance blogger, Dean Caldera is also a player agent for the Fremont Football league and a Vice President for the Fremont Centerville Little League organization.
Dean Caldera’s outside commitments may be interfering with her work at Stanford.
An example of Dean Caldera’s oversight can be found in the basement of Crothers Hall, where an imposter student was found after he “lived in the basement for weeks” and was caught after stealing a television. Crothers Hall is part of neighborhood N, one of the two Stanford neighborhoods Dean Caldera was directly responsible for.
Dean Caldera was also responsible for cultivating safe drinking policies on campus and in November 2018 Dean Caldera and Vice Provost Susie Brubaker-Cole presented a “Student Alcohol Case Study” to the Stanford Board of Trustees. One year later, Stanford’s alcohol policies were criticized amid record student hospitalizations.
Below, a photo of Dean Caldera:
The most important part of Dean Caldera’s job is preventing student suicides. According to her resume, she “provides strategic direction for undergraduate case management” and “resolves high-level, high-profile, high-need student issues.”
About two years into President Tessier-Lavigne’s tenure as President, Dean Caldera was promoted to Lead Resident Dean with oversight for “all undergraduate crisis response and case management for 7,000 students.”
In Dean Caldera’s four-year tenure as Lead Residence Dean at least nine students have died by suicide, a Stanford record. During the 16-year administration of former President John Hennessey, only six students died.
One reason for the record Stanford student suicides under Dean Caldera may be that both Dean Caldera’s credentials for suicide prevention are expired, with her QPR for Suicide Prevention expiring in February 2017.
Dean Caldera’s other major credentials are a master’s of education in college student affairs and a doctorate in higher education administration from Azusa Pacific University, one of the largest Christian universities in the country with a 94% acceptance rate. In a deleted Instagram post, Dean Caldera wrote, in part, that “I had to take some classes over again because it was so difficult.”
Dean Caldera’s LinkedIn was recently deleted.
Dean Caldera’s social media presence also gives a glimpse into an aggressive demeanor that may contribute to record student deaths. For example, in one now-deleted Instagram post, Dean Caldera appeared to share long advice texts and circled for emphasis a paragraph reading,
“Go out there and do your thing. You’ve worked 15 years to show them that you can sling. You can cut their face with your wedding ring.”
Not all of Dean Caldera’s social content is disturbing. One of Dean Caldera’s older marketing posts is titled, in part, “My mind on my money and my money on my mind.” Dean Caldera writes,
“The recurring theme in my college experience was believing that I never had enough money… I am still working to heal my relationship with money.”
Dean Caldera may also be working to heal her relationship with taxes.
In a 2018 case, the California Franchise Tax Board alleged that an audit of Dean Caldera’s taxes found she wrongly claimed a Young Infant Credit carryover. Dean Caldera appealed the case to the California Office of Tax Appeals. In a unanimous opinion, the Honorable Teresa A. Stanley, the Honorable Alberto T. Rosas, and the Honorable Amanda Vassigh ruled against Dean Lisa Caldera and wrote, in part,
“In their appeal, appellants claimed they were misguided by their online tax filing service… There is no reasonable cause exception to the legal requirement to pay taxes on all income after accounting for valid deductions and credits… Accordingly, we find no error in the FTB’s action in assessing the additional tax and interest.” (Office of Tax Appeals Case No. 18010772)
Stanford may have been aware of issues with Dean Caldera well before my June 2020 Ethics Complaint. In early 2019, Dean Caldera applied to be the Dean of Students for the University of California, Riverside. According to Dean Caldera’s application documents, Dean Caldera received a nomination for the position by Dr. Brenda McComb, Stanford’s former Associate Vice Provost. Dean Caldera didn’t get the job.
Today, President Tessier-Lavigne’s administration seems to know they have a problem with Dean Caldera.
On or around 2:22am ET on November 29, eight days after the Katie Meyer wrongful death lawsuit listed Dean Caldera as a defendant, President Tessier-Lavigne’s administration changed Dean Caldera’s official Stanford page to say Dean Caldera was responsible for neighborhoods A, N, R + S, instead of just neighborhoods N + R.
Later, on or around 5:33am ET on November 30, Dean Caldera’s official Stanford page was changed again to modify her neighborhood responsibilities from “A, N, R + S” to “A +N / R +S”
This may be a sign that the Administration will claim Dean Caldera alternates between these neighborhoods (A + N vs R +S) on certain days – and therefore may not be responsible for a particular neighborhood on a particular day.
On or around the morning on December 3, President Tessier-Lavigne’s administration deleted all bibliographic information from Dean Caldera’s official page and also deleted her photograph.
After the Katie Meyer wrongful death lawsuit was filed, Dean Caldera also deleted her professional LinkedIn as well as Instagram and Facebook pages for her college admissions consulting business. Later Dean Caldera also deleted a separate intake form for her college admission consulting clients.
In sum, President Tessier-Lavigne’s administration was made aware multiple times through official channels of potential misconduct by Dean Caldera and did nothing. And after Dean Caldera was connected to multiple student deaths and multiple ethics complaints, no one in President Tessier-Lavigne’s administration did even the most basic diligence into Dean Caldera’s activities. And then once these problems became public President Tessier-Lavigne’s administration and Dean Caldera began destroying the evidence of misconduct.
Shortly before President Marc Tessier-Lavigne became President, a speaker at Stanford’s series on great leadership gave a talk titled, “Leaders Must Be Honest” and said,
“Leadership is broken around the world. Right now, leadership is broken. Broken in our political system. It’s broken in many corporations. If you look at the set of things that have played out in corporations in the last few years, where the CEO knew about what was going on, it’s broken. It’s broken because people don’t like to tell the truth when the truth is difficult.”
That talk was given by John Hennessy, Stanford’s former President.