Harvard board under pressure to resign after support for president Claudine Gay

"It’s on their watch that it’s happening."

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

The Harvard Corporation, the governing board running the Ivy League school, is facing calls to resign by members of the school’s factory, coming after the board expressed support for embattled President Claudine Gay.

According to the Wall Street Journal, members on the board serve a six-year renewable term, with current members of the board selecting new ones. The board currently consists of 12 members with one seat sitting empty, but previously consisted of six members from 1650 up until 2010.

"There are few checks on their authority. One faculty member said the corporation answers only to God," the Wall Street Journal reported.

“They’re under pressure, that’s obvious,” former Harvard Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier told the outlet. “They are the fiduciary body and no one will deny that Harvard’s reputation has taken a very substantial hit in the world."

“It’s on their watch that it’s happening,” he added.

Kit Parker, a bioengineering and applied physics professor, said that school is at a turning point, and to change course, hte members of the Harvard Corporation needs to step down.

“The big question now is, how arrogant is Harvard? And when I say Harvard, I mean the Harvard Corporation. Do they think this is going to go away," he said.

One faculty member has urged lawmakers in the state to install a government official on the board to provide more transparency and accountability, citing a carve-out in the Massachusetts Constitution.

A spokeswoman for Massachusetts Governor Maura Healy said the governor is aware of the proposal and looks forward to reading it.

Gay has been under fire after a Congressional hearing on antisemitism in which she and two other Ivy League heads from MIT and UPenn said that antisemitic speech and chants calling for violence against Jews were protected by free speech considerations.

Gay has also been accused of plagiarism on multiple occasions, which the Harvard board found that Gay in fact did have instances of "inadequate citation" in her work, though they did not constitute a "violation of Harvard's standards for research misconduct." 

The Harvard Corporation wrote in a statement that its members "unanimously stand in support of President Gay," and maintained that despite her previous statements, she was dedicated to tackling the rampant antisemitism exhibited at the Boston institution in the wake of the October 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

"We today reaffirm our support for President Gay's continued leadership of Harvard University," members said in a joint statement. "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."

Early admission applications to Harvard have fallen 17 percent this year.

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