Harvard President Claudine Gay Resigns

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Harvard president Claudine Gay has resigned after becoming embroiled in a pair of controversies over on-campus antisemitism and plagiarism.

Gay spent just over six months as president of Harvard, having assumed the role on July 1, 2023. She was the university’s first Black president, and has now served the shortest tenure of any president in the school’s history. Alan M. Garber, the current Provost and Chief Academic Officer, will step in as interim president. (The student paper, The Harvard Crimson, was the first to report Gay’s resignation.)

In a letter announcing her resignation, Gay said: “This is not a decision I came to easily. Indeed, it has been difficult beyond words because I have looked forward to working with so many of you to advance the commitment to academic excellence that has propelled this great university across centuries. But, after consultation with members of [Harvard’s Board] the Corporation, it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual.”

Harvard’s board said in its statement: “These past several months have seen Harvard and higher education face a series of sustained and unprecedented challenges. In the face of escalating controversy and conflict, President Gay and the Fellows have sought to be guided by the best interests of the institution whose future progress and well-being we are together committed to uphold. Her own message conveying her intention to step down eloquently underscores what those who have worked with her have long known — her commitment to the institution and its mission is deep and selfless. It is with that overarching consideration in mind that we have accepted her resignation.”

Gay came under fire last month after testifying before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on the issue of antisemitism on-campus. During the hearing, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked, “At Harvard, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment?” Gay replied, “It can be, depending on the context,” and when pressed to give a yes or no answer, added, “antisemitic speech when it crosses into conduct that amounts to bullying, harassment, intimidation — that is actionable conduct and we do take action.”

Former University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill also gave a similar responses to Stefanik’s questions, and was ultimately forced to step down. But Harvard’s board, the Harvard Corporation, appeared willing to stick with Gay at first, stating it still had “confidence that President Gay is the right leader to help our community heal and address the very serious societal issues we are facing.” 

Amidst all of this, Gay faced a deluge of accusations that her old scholarly work contained numerous instances of plagiarism. These claims were brought largely by longtime critics on the right, including prominent conservative activist Christopher Rufo. (The conservative publication, The Washington Free Beacon published a new set of plagiarism allegations against Gay earlier today.)

Gay was not accused of lifting other people’s ideas and passing them off as her own. Rather, her work was targeted for containing language that was similar, or sometimes identical, to that used by other scholars, often when describing run-of-the-mill, well-established topics or ideas.


Harvard, for its part, previously said it found “a few instances of inadequate citation” and “duplicative language,” and requested “four corrections in two articles to insert citations and quotation marks that were omitted from the original publications.” It did not, however, say Gay’s work violated its standards for “research misconduct.” 

In its statement announcing her resignation, the Harvard board said, “While President Gay has acknowledged missteps and has taken responsibility for them, it is also true that she has shown remarkable resilience in the face of deeply personal and sustained attacks. While some of this has played out in the public domain, much of it has taken the form of repugnant and in some cases racist vitriol directed at her through disgraceful emails and phone calls. We condemn such attacks in the strongest possible terms.”

Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/harvard-president-claudine-gay-resigns-1234939157/

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