Harvard President Claudine Gay resigns amid fresh controversy

Harvard President Claudine Gay has resigned, after she and other presidents of Ivy League schools in the United States were widely criticized for their congressional testimony about antisemitism on campus.

The Harvard Crimson student newspaper reported on Tuesday, that Gay’s tenure was the shortest in Harvard’s history, and followed increasing pressure for her resignation last month, after University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill stepped down.

Gay was the first Black person and only the second woman to serve as Harvard’s president, having held the position for just a little over six months. 

“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,” Gay said in a statement Tuesday. “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,” she said.

“But, after consultation with members of 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,” Gay said.

Gay has also been faced with a fresh round of accusations over plagiarism in her scholarly work, in addition to the criticism over her congressional testimony. 

Gay and then-University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill were criticized for answers they gave to Rep. Elise Stefanik, and others at a House committee hearing on antisemitism on university campuses in the wake of the attack on Israel by the Hamas terror group.

Both Gay and Magill were widely criticised for not directly answering inflammatory questions by Stefanik, while both Presidents later issued statements that they should have been clearer in condemning Stefanik’s speech. 

It was reported that Alan Garber, Harvard’s provost and chief academic officer, will serve as the university’s interim president while the Harvard Corporation searches for a permanent replacement.