Harvard President Claudine Gay seems to be digging in her heels and won’t resign despite the mounting pressure. The reports come in after the Harvard board publicly announced their support for her. 700 faculty members also came to her defence in several open letters.
Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who has donated millions to Harvard, has been very vocal against Gay. In his recent post he claimed, “I have been told now by two reporters that one of the factors that made it challenging for the @Harvard board to fire Gay was that they were concerned it would look like they were kowtowing to me.”
Earlier, Ackman had written an open letter to Harvard’s board on Sunday claiming Gay had “quelched speech she disfavors while defending and thereby amplifying vile and threatening hate speech.” The petition urging her removal has been signed by 1,100 alumni.
But the Harvard Alumni Association Executive Committee on Monday asked the Harvard Corporation to back Gay, the Harvard Crimson reported. Nearly 700 faculty members signed a petition supporting Gay as of Monday afternoon while Black alumni and allies said on social media that they had gathered nearly 800 signatures on another petition supporting the president.
Donors, prominent alumni and members of Congress have called for her to resign as her fellow Ivy League leader at University of Pennsylvania, who also testified to Congress last week, did on Saturday. Meanwhile many faculty and other alumni have rushed to defend Gay and asked the governing body to do the same. Gay had assumed the university’s top job in July and is Harvard’s first Black president.
On Friday, 74 members of Congress, in a letter to the boards of all three schools, called for leadership changes. Magill and the University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees Chair Scott Bok resigned from their posts on Saturday. The Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation said in a statement after Kornbluth’s testimony that she still had its full support.