Harvard President Resigns, Marking Shortest University Tenure

Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned Tuesday (Jan. 2) amid plagiarism accusations and criticism over testimony at a congressional hearing. At the hearing mentioned, Gay was unable to say unequivocally that calls on campus for the genocide of Jews would violate the school’s conduct policy, per AP.

Gay made history at Harvard as its first Black president. The university made the announcement in Dec. 2022, and Claudine assumed the role on July 1, 2023.

RELATED: Harvard University Elects Claudine Gay As First Black President!

Six months later, the Harvard president gave up her title in a letter to the Harvard community. This marks the shortest tenure term a president has served in Harvard’s history.

“It is with a heavy heart but a deep love for Harvard that I write to share that I will be stepping down as president. 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.” 

Gay revealed that she had consulted with other Harvard officials about the backlash. They found it was in the “best interests of Harvard” for her to resign. This way, the Harvard community “can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual.” 

She added:

“It has been distressing to have don’t cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to uploading scholarly rigor –two bedrock values that are fundamental to who I am — and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus.” 

Swipe below for the former Harvard President’s full statement.

How Harvard Responded To Claudine Gay’s Resignation

Gay is the second Ivy League president to resign in the past month following the congressional testimony.

Following the congressional hearing, Gay’s academic career came under intense scrutiny. Much of it came from conservative activists who unearthed several instances of alleged plagiarism in her 1997 doctoral dissertation.

Harvard’s governing board initially rallied behind Gay. The board stated a review of her scholarly work turned up “a few instances of inadequate citation” but no evidence of research misconduct.

Days later, the Harvard Corporation revealed that it found two additional examples of “duplicative language without appropriate attribution.” The board said Gay would update her dissertation and request corrections.

Following her resignation, the Harvard Corporation said the move came “with great sadness.” They also thanked Gay for her “deep and unwavering commitment to Harvard and to the pursuit of academic excellence.”

Alan M. Garber, provost and chief academic officer, will serve as interim president until Harvard finds a replacement, the board said in a statement. Garber, an economist and physician, has served as provost for 12 years.

Controversy That Led To Claudine Gay Resigning From Harvard President Title

Gay’s resignation was celebrated by the conservatives who put her alleged plagiarism in the national spotlight. Christopher Rufo, an activist who has helped rally the GOP against critical race theory and other cultural issues, said he’s “glad she’s gone.”

“Rather than take responsibility for minimizing antisemitism, committing serial plagiarism, intimidating the free press, and damaging the institution, she calls her critics racist,” Rufo said on X, formerly Twitter.

Rufo added that “this is the poison” of diversity, equity, and inclusion ideology.

Gay and the presidents of MIT and the University of Pennsylvania came under fire last month for their lawyerly answers to a line of questioning from New York Rep. Elise Stefanik. The rep had asked whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” would violate the colleges’ code of conduct.

The three presidents had been called before the Republican-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce to answer accusations that universities were failing to protect Jewish students amid rising fears of antisemitism worldwide and fallout from Israel’s intensifying war in Gaza.

RELATED: Harvard Sued Over Legacy Admissions Following Affirmative Action Ruling

Gay said it depended on the context, adding that when “speech crosses into conduct, that violates our policies.” The answer faced swift backlash from Republican and some Democratic lawmakers as well as the White House. The hearing was parodied in the opening skit on “Saturday Night Live.”

Gay later apologized, telling The Crimson student newspaper that she got caught up in a heated exchange at the House committee hearing and failed to properly denounce threats of violence against Jewish students.

“What I should have had the presence of mind to do in that moment was return to my guiding truth, which is that calls for violence against our Jewish community — threats to our Jewish students — have no place at Harvard and will never go unchallenged,” Gay said.

The episode marred Gay’s tenure at Harvard and sowed discord at the Ivy League campus. Rabbi David Wolpe later resigned from a new committee on antisemitism created by Gay.  In a post on X, formerly Twitter, that “events on campus and the painfully inadequate testimony reinforced the idea that I cannot make the sort of difference I had hoped.”

Associated Press reporters Steve Leblanc and Collin Binkley contributed to this report.

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