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Harvard President Claudine Gay to stay in office with unanimous support from university board

Harvard President Claudine Gay to stay in office
Harvard President Claudine Gay to stay in office 03:08

CAMBRIDGE - Harvard President Claudine Gay will stay in office after getting support from the highest governing body at the school Tuesday.

"In this tumultuous and difficult time, we unanimously stand in support of President Gay," the Harvard Corporation said in a statement.

Gay and the presidents of MIT and the University of Pennsylvania have been under intense criticism since last week when they each testified before Congress about antisemitism on college campuses.

Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik asked Gay, "At Harvard, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard's rules of bullying and harassment, yes, or no?"

"It can be, depending on the context," Gay said.

After their testimony, more than 70 members of Congress, mostly Republicans, demanded all three presidents resign. University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned Saturday.

"I am sorry," Gay later told the Harvard Crimson. "Words matter."

Hundreds of faculty at Harvard signed a letter calling for the university's two governing boards to resist pressure from politicians and donors to force Gay to resign.

The Harvard Corporation, the highest governing body at the school, met to discuss Gay's future at the university Monday.

"We today reaffirm our support for President Gay's continued leadership of Harvard University," they said in a statement Tuesday morning. "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."

"President Gay has apologized for how she handled her congressional testimony and has committed to redoubling the University's fight against antisemitism," the corporation said in their letter to "the Harvard Community."

Gay has also been accused of plagiarizing portions of her PhD thesis. In a statement to the Boston Globe, she said "I stand by the integrity of my scholarship."

The corporation also addressed that issue in their statement, saying, "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. On December 9, the Fellows reviewed the results, which revealed a few instances of inadequate citation. While the analysis found no violation of Harvard's standards for research misconduct, President Gay is proactively requesting four corrections in two articles to insert citations and quotation marks that were omitted from the original publications."

Gay is the first Black president of Harvard University and less than a semester into her tenure there. Controversy about her performance started earlier this fall after 30 Harvard organizations released a statement days after the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, holding Israel "entirely responsible" for the attack. Three days later, Gay released a statement condemning the Hamas attack saying no student groups speak for Harvard.

"We look forward to continuing to work with President Gay and other senior Harvard administrators on educational programs and enforcing policies to protect Jewish students," Harvard Campus Rabbi Getzel Davis said in a statement Tuesday.

"I think we have to have faith in our choices and we've given her maybe six months to act on those choices. And most of the controversy and most the conflict started a mere two months ago and I don't think someone's actions in pretty much their first time of crisis is necessarily representative of how good of a leader they are as a whole." Harvard junior Soleil Saint-Cyr told WBZ-TV Tuesday.

MIT president Sally Kornbluth has also refused to resign. The school's governing board said she has their "full and unreserved support." 

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