Claudine Gay, the first Black president of Harvard, has resigned. Gay resigned Tuesday after being accused of plagiarizing others’ work and offering an equivocal view of antisemitic demonstrations on Harvard’s campus during a Congressional hearing on December 5, leading to her downfall.
“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,” Gay wrote in a letter to the Harvard community. “After consultation with members of the (Harvard) 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 extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual.”
Gay did not say when she plans to step down formally, but she described the decision as “difficult beyond words.” She will remain at Harvard as a professor.
In December, the Harvard Board, which governs the university, gave Gay its full backing and ordered her to clear up allegations of plagiarism and remain as Harvard’s president.
Elise Stefanik, the Republican congresswoman whose combative questioning of Gay and two other prominent university administrators about antisemitism at a committee hearing went viral, is taking credit for Gay’s resignation in a television interview.
Major donors decided to withdraw their support for Harvard if she stayed. Billionaire Bill Ackman said he would withdraw funds from Harvard if Gay remained in place.
Gay also was fighting other Blacks.
Dr. Carol Swain, a retired political science and law professor at Vanderbilt University, accused Gay of plagiarizing her work.
Swain, who is Black, accused Gay of using sections of a book she published in 1993 and an article she published in 1997 without giving her proper credit.
Gay is Harvard’s first Black president and the school’s second woman president. She was named Harvard's 30th president on December 15th.
Alan M. Garber, a physician and economist, Harvard's provost, chief academic officer, and Jewish, has been named Harvard’s interim president.