Harvard President Calls It Quits

[Jessica Williams, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]

And then there was one. Following in the footsteps of University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, a second of the three elite university presidents who testified that calling for the genocide of Jews may not violate university rules has resigned. 

The president of Harvard University, Claudine Gay, has resigned following after facing accusations of major plagiarism–a massive academic faux pas.   

The student newspaper at Harvard, The Crimson reports that “University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 will serve as Harvard’s interim president during a search for Gay’s permanent successor, the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — announced in an email on Tuesday.

Harvard spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain declined to comment on Gay’s decision to step down.

Gay’s resignation — just six months and two days into the presidency — comes amid growing allegations of plagiarism and lasting doubts over her ability to respond to antisemitism on campus after her disastrous congressional testimony Dec. 5.

Gay weathered scandal after scandal over her brief tenure, facing national backlash for her administration’s response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack and allegations of plagiarism in her scholarly work.”

Days before Christmas, Ruth Marcus, a leading liberal opinionmaker for the Washington Post, appeared to break the wall of circled wagons initially put up by the likes of Barack Obama and other Gay supporters.  

Marcus noted, “She plagiarized her acknowledgments. I take no joy in saying this, but Harvard President Claudine Gay ought to resign. Her track record is unbefitting the president of the country’s premier university. Remaining on the job would send a bad signal to students about the gravity of her conduct.

This was not my original instinct. I thought, and continue to believe, that Gay’s accusers and their allies were motivated more by conservative ideology and the desire to score points against the most elite of institutions than by any commitment to academic rigor. This was, and is, accompanied by no small dose of racism and the conviction that a Black woman couldn’t possibly be qualified to lead Harvard.

The instances of problematic citation in the work of Gay, a political scientist, have become too many to ignore. Some go well beyond routine use of the same language. The Washington Free Beacon’s Aaron Sibarium reported that “in at least 10 instances, Gay lifted full sentences — even entire paragraphs — with just a word or two tweaked.”

On January 1, The Washington Free Beacon revealed evidence that Gay committed “some of the most extreme and clear-cut cases of plagiarism.” 

The newspaper wrote that Harvard University president Claudine Gay was hit with six additional allegations of plagiarism on Monday in a complaint filed with the university, breathing fresh life into a scandal that has embroiled her nascent presidency and pushing the total number of allegations near 50.

Seven of Gay’s 17 published works have already been impacted by the scandal, but the new charges, which have not been previously reported, extend into an eighth: In a 2001 article, Gay lifts nearly half a page of material verbatim from another scholar, David Canon, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin.

That article, “The Effect of Minority Districts and Minority Representation on Political Participation in California,” includes some of the most extreme and clear-cut cases of plagiarism yet. At one point, Gay borrows four sentences from Canon’s 1999 book, Race, Redistricting, and Representation: The Unintended Consequences of Black Majority Districts, without quotation marks and with only minor semantic tweaks. She does not cite Canon anywhere in or near the passage, though he does appear in the bibliography.

The new accusations proved to be the nail in the coffin of the embattled leader of the world’s leading university, an institution that has significant power to shape society and produces a huge portion of the “leadership” class. 

In her resignation letter, the former Harvard president did not admit the missteps she made nor responsibility for the plagiarism she committed. Instead, she claimed to be a victim of bigotry, writing, “It is a singular honor to be a member of this university, which has been my home and my inspiration for most of my professional career. 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.”  


Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, the New York Republican who led the most aggressive questioning of Gay about the university’s reaction to rising antisemitism on campus, said the now former Harvard president’s ouster was “long overdue” before adding that “our robust Congressional investigation will continue to move forward to expose the rot in our most ‘prestigious’ higher education institutions and deliver accountability to the American people.”

A satirical site, The Babylon Bee, probably deserves the last word on this topic: 

[Read More: Trump Getting Boost From Those Who Hate Him]

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