Harvard University President resigns after anti-semitism, plagiarism controversies

Harvard University President Claudine Gay announced her resignation on Tuesday after being embroiled in controversy over her remarks on anti-Semitism to the United States Congress last month and recent allegations of plagiarism in her academic work.

Gay, Harvard’s first black rector, indicated in a letter that her decision to resign was in response to consultations with the university’s governing body, which reiterated its support for her.

The former rector cites “tensions and divisions” that are “weakening the bonds of trust and reciprocity” in the university community, “doubts” about her commitment against hatred and respect for academic rigor, and says she is frightened by personal attacks “fueled by racial animus.”

In a session held in Congress on Dec. 5, in a context of tension on campuses due to the war in the Gaza Strip, Gay was asked if calling for the genocide of the Jews violated the norms of the educational institution, to which she replied that “it depends on the context,” sparking controversy.

Another rector present at that session, Liz Magill of the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, responded to aggressive questioning by lawmakers in similar terms to Gay, and resigned her position four days later.

Recently, the former rector has been accused of plagiarism in her academic work, and on Monday was the subject of a complaint to the university demanding to investigate her because the examples of material not properly cited would rise to about 50, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

In December, Harvard’s governing body stated that a review of Gay’s work revealed instances of improper citation. They did not, however, categorize them as research misconduct. The former provost, Gay herself, requested corrections to two papers and is updating a dissertation to address these issues, she said.

The institution, in a letter on Tuesday regretted Gay’s resignation and explained that in light of the “escalating controversy and conflict” at Harvard, which extends to the realm of higher education, the leadership has sought to defend “the best interests of the institution.”

“We have accepted her resignation (…) We do so with sorrow. While President Gay has acknowledged missteps and has taken responsibility for them, it is also true that she has shown remarkable resilience in the face of deeply personal and sustained attacks, the institution explained, while condemning the “repugnant and in some cases racist vitriol” she has received.

Gay, a political scientist, is ending the shortest tenure in the university’s history after being named president only last July and will return as a professor. She will be temporarily replaced in the position by Alan Garber, an economist and physician who had been Harvard’s provost and chief academic officer, the institution said.

By Usmana kousar