Harvard board ‘reaffirms support’ for embattled Harvard president to stay amid allegations of antisemitism, plagiarism

Embattled Harvard President Claudine Gay will be keeping her job despite the outcry over her Congressional testimony after a decision by the school’s governing board.

Following days of silence amid calls for Gay’s resignation, members of a key oversight board of Harvard University announced Tuesday that they “affirm” and “support” the president in her role and will not seek to remove her despite the heated backlash over her refusal to condemn antisemitism as harassment on campus.

“As members of the Harvard Corporation, we today reaffirm our support for President Gay’s continued leadership of Harvard University. Our extensive deliberations affirm our confidence that President Gay is the right leader to help our community heal and to address the very serious societal issues we are facing,” the university’s governing body said in an email to the school community.

Referring to Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack against Israel in October, they acknowledged that the “University’s initial statement should have been an immediate, direct, and unequivocal condemnation.”

“Calls for genocide are despicable and contrary to fundamental human values. President Gay has apologized for how she handled her congressional testimony and has committed to redoubling the University’s fight against antisemitism,” the letter stated.

Harvard’s first black president, a professor of Government and of African and African-American Studies, spoke before Congress last week alongside University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and Sally Kornbluth, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Magill stepped down from her role as president but remains a faculty member following the disastrous hearing.

The university heads were excoriated for repeatedly refusing to confirm that calls for genocide against Jews on their campuses constitute harassment. Despite backlash from all sides and the loss of donations to the Ivy League school, the Executive Committee of Harvard University’s Alumni Association also threw its support behind Gay.

“President Gay is the right leader to guide the University during this challenging time… She is thoughtful. She is kind. She is resolutely dedicated to the growth and wellbeing of our very diverse community,” the group wrote, according to the Harvard Crimson. “We recognize that there was disappointment in her testimony this past week. President Gay has pointed this out and apologized for any pain her testimony caused–a powerful demonstration of her integrity, determination, and courage.”

Billionaire alumnus Bill Ackman echoed the sentiments of many when he accused Gay of “doing more damage to Harvard’s reputation than anyone in the university’s history.”

The Harvard Corporation’s letter also included comments about accusations made against Gay regarding plagiarism in her scholarly work. Journalists Christopher Rufo and Chris Brunet posted examples on X of works by Gay that seemed to be identical to works by other authors.

Gay strongly denied the claims, telling The Boston Globe on Monday, “I stand by the integrity of my scholarship. Throughout my career, I have worked to ensure my scholarship adheres to the highest academic standards.”

“With regard to President Gay’s academic writings, the University became aware in late October of allegations regarding three articles. At President Gay’s request, the Fellows promptly initiated an independent review by distinguished political scientists and conducted a review of her published work,” the letter from the Harvard Corporation read.

“On December 9, the Fellows reviewed the results, which revealed a few instances of inadequate citation,” they wrote, adding they “found no violation of Harvard’s standards for research misconduct,” and that Gay “is proactively requesting four corrections in two articles.”

“In this tumultuous and difficult time, we unanimously stand in support of President Gay,” the Fellows noted in concluding the letter.

“Harvard’s mission is advancing knowledge, research, and discovery that will help address deep societal issues and promote constructive discourse, and we are confident that President Gay will lead Harvard forward toward accomplishing this vital work,” they added in the message signed by each member’s name.

Frieda Powers

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