Billionaire Harvard donor Bill Ackman demands Penny Pritzker, entire Harvard board resign after Claudine Gay's ouster

"DEI is racist because reverse racism is racism."

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
Wall Street billionaire Bill Ackman, a Harvard grad and major donor, has demanded that the entire Harvard Corporation, including chairman of that board Penny Pritzker, resign from their posts. This comes after Claudine Gay resigned over allegations of antisemitism and plagiarism.

"The Board Chair, Penny Pritzker, should resign along with the other members of the board who led the campaign to keep Claudine Gay, orchestrated the strategy to threaten the media, bypassed the process for evaluating plagiarism, and otherwise greatly contributed to the damage that has been done," he wrote in a lengthy post on X.

"Then new Corporation board members should be identified who bring true diversity," he continued, "viewpoint and otherwise, to the board. The Board should not be principally comprised of individuals who share the same politics and views about DEI. The new board members should be chosen in a transparent process with the assistance of the 30-person Board of Overseers."

"There is no reason the Harvard board of 12 independent trustees cannot be comprised of the most impressive, high integrity, intellectually and politically diverse members of our country and globe. We have plenty of remarkable people to choose from, and the job of being a director just got much more interesting and important. It is no longer, nor should it ever have been, an honorary and highly political sinecure," he said.

Ackman, the Jewish founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, also laid out why he believes DEI is "racist" and claimed that these policies are the cause of "division" in our country.

"The E for 'equity' in DEI is about equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity," Ackman wrote in a lengthy post on X. 

"DEI is racist because reverse racism is racism, even if it is against white people (and it is remarkable that I even need to point this out)," Ackman added.

"Under DEI, one's degree of oppression is determined based upon where one resides on a so-called intersectional pyramid of oppression where whites, Jews and Asians are deemed oppressors, and a subset of people of color, LGBTQ people and/or women are deemed to be oppressed," he continued.

Ackman explained that he felt a sense of obligation to speak out against Harvard after 34 student organizations on campus published an open letter backing Hamas terrorists and blaming Israel for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack. Ackman, who was once a major Harvard donor, ceased all donations after Harvard failed to denounce the letter and has since made it his mission to take on the "antisemitic" university.

When Harvard ex-President Claudine Gay failed to denounce the genocide of Jews during a congressional hearing in November alongside other Ivy League presidents that included Liz Magill of U Penn and Sally Kornbluth of MIT, Ackman became outspoken on the issue.

The billionaire slammed Gay's comments during a congressional hearing during which she was grilled by Rep. Elise Stefanik and said she was only appointed to the position because of DEI policies. Gay resigned on Tuesday amid backlash over the congressional hearing and allegations of plagiarism. She noted that she'd met with the board, which had been supportive up until that point, and came away from that meeting with the understanding that she should resign.

"Under DEI's ideology, any policy, program, educational system, economic system, grading system, admission policy, (and even climate change due its disparate impact on geographies and the people that live there), etc. that leads to unequal outcomes among people of different skin colors is deemed racist," Ackman said.

"As a result, according to DEI, capitalism is racist, Advanced Placement exams are racist, IQ tests are racist, corporations are racist, or in other words, any merit-based program, system or organization which has or generates outcomes for different races that are at variance with the proportion these different races represent in the population at large is by definition racist under DEI’s ideology," he explained.

Additionally, Ackman attributed the increasing divisions in society to the DEI movement, describing how it has fostered resentment, which he described as "one of the most important drivers of racism."

"All of the above said, it is one thing to give disadvantaged people the opportunities and resources so that they can help themselves. It is another to select a candidate for admission or for a leadership role when they are not qualified to serve in that role," said Ackman.

Ackman said that the university's Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, which Gay established, needs to be shut down. Furthermore, he believes that Harvard should appoint "capable business people for the role of president."

"The Board should not be principally comprised of individuals who share the same politics and views about DEI," Ackman wrote. "The new board members should be chosen in a transparent process with the assistance of the 30-person Board of Overseers."

Claudine Gay had the shortest tenure of any of her predecessors.

Over the past few weeks, Gay has faced mounting criticism and calls to step down over not only her handling of antisemitism on campus in the wake of Hamas' October 7 terrorist attacks in Israel, but accusations of plagiarism as well. Despite resigning in disgrace, Gay will get to keep her nearly $900,000 annual salary.

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