Harvard president Claudine Gay resigns amid claims of plagiarism, antisemitism backlash

Harvard University^ taken during the spring

Harvard University President Claudine Gay resigned Tuesday amid plagiarism accusations, as well as the backlash over her response to anti-Semitism on campus. Gay said she is resigning to allow the Harvard community to navigate the controversy “with a focus on the institution rather than any individual.”

Gay wrote in her resignation letter Tuesday: “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. My deep sense of connection to Harvard and its people has made it all the more painful to witness the tensions and divisions that have riven our community in recent months, weakening the bonds of trust and reciprocity that should be our sources of strength and support in times of crisis. Amidst all of this, it has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigor — two bedrock values that are fundamental to who I am — and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus.”

Gay’s resignation follows a complaint reported by the Washington Free Beacon detailing six new accusations of plagiarism in Gay’s scholarly work, bringing the total to nearly 50. Alan M. Garber, the university provost, will serve as interim president during the search for a replacement for Gay, who according to The Harvard Crimson served the shortest presidency in the university’s history (Gay’s tenure began in July). Gay will resume her faculty position at Harvard.

Further controversy arose surrounding Gay after criticism that she, and the university, failed to forcefully condemn the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas. Gay faced investigations by the Harvard Corp. and the U.S. House of Representatives after her Dec. 5 testimony before the House Education and the Workforce Committee related to antisemitism on campus, and received backlash for appearing to evade questions about antisemitism and whether students would be disciplined for calling for the genocide of Jews.

A statement from Harvard’s governing board read: “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. While some of this has played out in the public domain, much of it has taken the form of repugnant and in some cases racist vitriol directed at her through disgraceful emails and phone calls. We condemn such attacks in the strongest possible terms.”

Editorial credit:  Jorge Salcedo / Shutterstock.com

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