Harvard President, Claudine Gay resigns over plagiarism allegations

Harvard President Claudine Gay has resigned following allegations levelled against her and other presidents of Ivy League schools for their congressional testimony about antisemitism on campus.

The New York Times quoted Harvard Crimson student newspaper that Gay who has been under fire for weeks because of how she has handled controversy at Harvard over the war in Gaza tendered her resignation on Tuesday.

It revealed that Gay resigned amid allegations of plagiarism adding that she failed to properly cite sources in her academic papers, making her become the shortest-serving president of the university with just six months and two days into the job.

She was Harvard’s first Black president who assumed the position on July 1, 2023, but had to resign with the increasing pressure mounted on her, following the stepping down of the University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill.

Gay, Magill, and Sally Kornbluth, the President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology testified before a United States House of Representatives committee on December 5 about a surge in antisemitism on college campuses following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in October.

The trio refused to offer a definitive “yes” or “no” answer to Republican Representative Elise Stefanik’s question as to whether calling for the genocide of Jews would breach their schools’ codes of conduct regarding bullying and harassment, saying they had to balance it against free speech protections.

More than 70 US lawmakers signed a letter demanding that the governing boards of the three universities remove the presidents, citing dissatisfaction with their testimony.

Gay, however, received the backing of some of her colleagues at Harvard as several hundred faculty members last month signed a petition asking school administrators to not bend to political pressure to fire the school’s president over her testimony.

The 53-year-old academic administrator has also been hit with accusations of plagiarism. 

A university spokesperson disclosed that Gay planned to submit three corrections to her 1997 dissertation after a committee investigating plagiarism allegations against her discovered that she had made citation errors.

In a letter to the Harvard community, Gay wrote, “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.”

“This is not a decision I came to easily. Indeed, it has been difficult beyond words because I have looked forward to working with so many of you to advance the commitment to academic excellence that has propelled this great university across centuries,” she said.

“But, after consultation with members of the Corporation, it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual.”

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