Harvard President Claudine Gay resigns after plagiarism and campus antisemitism accusations
Jan 2, 2024, 11:32 AM | Updated: 3:11 pm
(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
New York (CNN) — Harvard President Claudine Gay announced Tuesday she is stepping down just six months into her presidency amid a firestorm of controversy at the university.
She also noted that “it has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding 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.”
In a letter Tuesday, the Harvard Corporation defended Gay and said they accepted her resignation “with sorrow.” The Corporation, which is the university’s governing body, said she showed “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,” the letter read.
Controversy on campus and across the country
Gay was undone in part by an ongoing plagiarism scandal and a disastrous congressional hearing last month in which she and other university presidents failed to explicitly say calls for genocide of Jewish people constituted bullying and harassment on campus.
Tensions have surged on some college campuses following the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas against Israel. There have been hundreds of protests and counterprotests on college campuses, with some of them turning violent.
The faces and names of some students allegedly linked to anti-Israel statements were displayed on mobile billboards near the campuses of both Harvard and Columbia. Another Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania, alerted the FBI to violent antisemitic threats made against some faculty members.
Separately, Gay had drawn widespread criticism after accusations of plagiarism emerged, including multiple instances of missing quotation marks and citations. Harvard recently announced Gay planned to submit corrections to her 1997 PhD dissertation to correct instances of “inadequate citation,” adding to the ones she issued earlier to a pair of scholarly articles she wrote in the 2000s.
Notably, the university called those corrections “regrettable,” but found they did not meet the punishable threshold of research misconduct.
Interim president selected
Alan M. Garber, who currently serves as provost and chief academic officer at Harvard, will step in as interim president until the school finds a new leader, the Harvard Corporation announced in a letter on Tuesday.
“We are fortunate to have someone of Alan’s broad and deep experience, incisive judgment, collaborative style, and extraordinary institutional knowledge to carry forward key priorities and to guide the university through this interim period,” the corporation said.
The Corporation said the search for a new president would “begin in due course,” but did not specify an exact timeline.
Gay said in her letter she would return to a faculty position “and to the scholarship and teaching that are the lifeblood of what we do.”
A spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.
– CNN’s Ramishah Maruf, Em Steck and Andrew Kaczynski contributed to this story.
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