Harvard board backs university president Claudine Gay after congressional remarks

'The right leader to help our community heal,' board says

Harvard president Claudine Gay speaks during a hearing of the House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill last week. AP
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Harvard University's governing board declared its support for the Ivy League school's president on Tuesday, a day after meeting to weigh the public backlash following remarks she made at last week's congressional hearing on anti-Semitism.

The Harvard Corporation, the university's governing body, in a statement said it had reaffirmed its support for Harvard president Claudine Gay's continued leadership.

“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,” the 11-member board wrote.

Its decision was first reported by the Harvard Crimson student newspaper.

Some donors, alumni and members of Congress called for Ms Gay to resign, as her fellow Ivy League president at the University of Pennsylvania, Liz Magill, did at the weekend. But many faculty and other alumni have rushed to defend Ms Gay and asked the governing body to do the same.

A House of Representatives hearing last week increased public outcry over how US colleges are handling campus protests since Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel.

Three university presidents declined to give a simple “yes” or “no” answer when asked if calling for the genocide of Jews would violate school codes of conduct regarding bullying and harassment.

Ms Gay, Ms Magill and Sally Kornbluth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told members of Congress that context was important and they had to take free speech into consideration.

Ms Gay later apologised for her remarks.

Updated: December 12, 2023, 3:08 PM