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Harvard board says President Claudine Gay will remain despite calls for her ouster

As members of the Harvard Corporation, we today reaffirm our support for President Gay’s continued leadership of Harvard University," the board said.

Published: December 12, 2023 8:37am

Updated: December 12, 2023 8:55am

The Harvard board on Tuesday said Claudine Gay would remain as president of the university despite calls for her ousting following her answers about antisemitism before Congress last week as well as allegations she plagiarized parts of her Ph.D. thesis.

"As members of the Harvard Corporation, we today reaffirm our support for President Gay’s continued leadership of Harvard University," the board, known as the Harvard Corporation, said in a statement signed by all members except for Gay. "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 board also said it was aware of plagiarism allegations against Gay in October, and an independent review "revealed a few instances of inadequate citation." Gay did not violate Harvard's misconduct standards, but she is still requesting corrections to add citations and quotation marks to two articles, the group said.

The allegations made headlines after journalists Christopher Rufo and Chris Brunet posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Sunday, portions of Gay's thesis next to earlier academic articles.

The board also acknowledged that Gay made mistakes when addressing the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, when about 1,200 people were killed and 240 others were kidnapped. 

"So many people have suffered tremendous damage and pain because of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack, and 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," the board wrote. "President Gay has apologized for how she handled her congressional testimony and has committed to redoubling the University’s fight against antisemitism."

Gay apologized last week for her statements during the House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing. 

At the hearing, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., asked Gay: "At Harvard, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment?"

Gay responded that "depending on the context" such statements could violate school policies and that "antisemitic speech, when it crosses into conduct that amounts to bullying, harassment, intimidation — that is actionable conduct and we do take action."

Gay appeared before Congress alongside M.I.T President Sally Kornbluth and University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill, the latter of whom has since resigned.

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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