Harvard’s president Claudine Gay has resigned from her post on Tuesday following backlash over her comments during a congressional hearing about antisemitism on campus and allegations of plagiarism in her academic work. Alan Garber, a physician and economist currently serving as the university’s provost, will step in as interim president.
In a letter to the Harvard community, Gay called the decision “difficult beyond words,” writing that after consultation with the Harvard Corporation, the university’s governing board, ”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.”
Gay is the second Ivy League president to resign following a congressional testimony in December regarding antisemitism on campus. Last month, Gay, alongside former University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth, testified before a U.S. House of Representatives committee about the rise of antisemitism on college campuses following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. The three leaders did not directly answer a question from Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik on whether calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their schools’ codes of conduct.
Magill resigned from her post days after the hearing following backlash for her comments.
Gay’s tenure, the shortest in the university’s history, began in July 2023. A professor of government and of African and African American studies, she was Harvard’s first Black president and second female president in the university’s 387-year history.
Gay also recently began facing allegations of plagiarism in published academic papers and her doctoral dissertation. In a statement published on Dec. 9, the Harvard Corporation stood by Gay, noting that though her work appeared to contain “a few instances of inadequate citation”, there was “no violation of Harvard’s standards for research misconduct.” According to the university, Gay has requested four corrections on two academic papers and is updating her dissertation in three spots.
Gay’s resignation comes just weeks after the university’s governing board issued a statement of support for the president. “In this tumultuous and difficult time, we unanimously stand in support of President Gay,” the Harvard Corporation said on Dec. 12.
On Tuesday, the board said they accepted Gay’s resignation “with sorrow.”
“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,” the statement read. “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.”