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Penn donor Ross Stevens threatens to pull $100 million donation after Liz Magill's testimony in Congress

Penn donor threatens to pull $100 million after Penn president's comments at antisemitism hearing
Penn donor threatens to pull $100 million after Penn president's comments at antisemitism hearing 02:35

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/CNN) -- Pressure is mounting on the University of Pennsylvania's president, Liz Magill, to step down after controversial testimony before Congress this week that many viewed as antisemitic.

In addition to protests and strong words from Gov. Josh Shapiro, a prominent Wharton School donor is now threatening to withdraw a $100 million donation.

RELATED: Students protest University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill after comments at hearing on antisemitism

Ross Stevens, a Penn alumnus and the CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, said in a note to employees that he will rescind $100 million worth of shares in his company currently held by Penn - "absent a change in leadership and values at Penn in the very near future."

Lawyers for the firm Davis Polk, which represents Stone Ridge, sent a letter to Penn that mentioned an agreement about the shares. That agreement, according to Stone Ridge, gives the firm the ability to retire the shares for cause, including potential damage to Stone Ridge's "reputation, character, or standing."

Copies of the note and the letter were obtained by CNN.

Magill was one of three college presidents who testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday. They spoke about how they have handled antisemitic incidents on their campuses since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel, with many Republican lawmakers insisting they aren't doing enough to root out and denounce anti-Jewish sentiments.

In the hearing, Magill got in an exchange with New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik about whether calling for the genocide of Jewish people violates the Ivy League university's code of conduct.

"If it is directed and severe and pervasive, it is harassment," Magill said.

"So the answer is yes?" Stefanik replied.

"It is a context-dependent decision, Congresswoman," Magill answered.

The comments led to a protest outside of Magill's office, where some demanded she step down. Magill later tried to clarify the testimony in a video statement.

"I was not focused on, but I should have been the irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate," Magill said in the video.

ALSO SEE: Penn students react to President Liz Magill's comments on campus antisemitism

Shapiro, who is Jewish, said Magill's testimony was shameful and unacceptable on Thursday evening, when he visited a menorah lighting on Penn's campus.

"This is a moment where leaders need to speak and act with moral clarity. And leaders don't only come in the form of elected leaders like me. It's leaders of universities and corporations, arts and cultural institutions," Shapiro said. "President Magill failed that test when she was under oath in front of Congress."  

Shapiro said he attended the lighting to offer support to Jewish students and faculty.  

"I wanted to hear how they are feeling on campus, and they shared with me that they don't feel safe and they shared with me that they don't feel supported by the administration and some said they don't feel supported in their classes," Shapiro said.

As for Magill's future, Shapiro said it is up to Penn's Board of Trustees to decide.

Wharton Board of Advisors calls for Magill to resign

The Wharton Board of Advisors, comprised of a who's who group of business leaders, has joined the growing chorus of voices calling for Magill's immediate ouster.

"As a result of the University leadership's stated beliefs and collective failure to act, our Board respectfully suggests to you and the Board of Trustees that the University requires new leadership with immediate effect," the Wharton Board of Advisors wrote in a letter sent directly to Magill.

The letter, which appears to have been sent Wednesday, specifically cites Magill's Congressional testimony.

"In light of your testimony yesterday before Congress, we demand the University clarify its position regarding any call for harm to any group of people immediately, change any policies that allow such conduct with immediate effect, and discipline any offenders expeditiously," the letter reads.

The strong criticism comes from an influential group of Penn alumni. Its members include billionaire NFL owner Josh Harris, former Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky, Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau, Blackstone exec David Blitzer and BET CEO Scott Mills, according to the Wharton Board of Advisors website.

"Our board has been, and remains, deeply concerned about the dangerous and toxic culture on our campus that has been led by a select group of students and faculty and has been permitted by University leadership," the Wharton board letter said.

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