(The Center Square) – Harvard has “reaffirmed” its support of embattled university President Claudine Gay.
The Ivy League school faced mounting pressure to fire her following her controversial congressional testimony last week where she failed to say if students who called for a Jewish genocide would face punishment. Additional pressure built with allegations of plagiarism in her thesis.
The Harvard Corporation, the 13-member governing board of the university, released a statement after serious talks on whether to oust Gay in the fallout from the heated testimony. The board didn’t hesitate to voice their “confidence” in the 53-year-old who was promoted to university president July 1, saying she encompasses the ability to help their community “heal.”
“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,” according to a statement from the board.
The board acknowledged the atrocities committed by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attack on Jewish civilians, noting the university should have immediately condemned the attack, and saying “calls for genocide are despicable” and don’t align with “fundamental human values.”
The board underscored Gay’s apology following her congressional testimony, saying the university president has “committed to redoubling the University’s fight against antisemitism.”
Over the weekend, nearly 700 Harvard faculty members signed a letter urging the university not to bow to pressure to oust Gay, citing “political pressures” and a “commitment to academic freedom.”
“We, the undersigned faculty, urge you in the strongest possible terms to defend the independence of the university and to resist political pressures that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom, including calls for the removal of President Claudine Gay,” the letter said.
“The critical work of defending a culture of free inquiry in our diverse community cannot proceed if we let its shape be dictated by outside forces,” the letter continued.
The board reiterated the university’s role in promoting “constructive discourse,” repeating the need to address “deep societal issues.”
“Harvard’s mission is advancing knowledge, research, and discovery that will help address deep societal issues and promote constructive discourse, and we are confident that President Gay will lead Harvard forward toward accomplishing this vital work,” the board said.