Harvard University President Claudine Gay announced she would be stepping down after six months of service due to plagiarism allegations.
Gay faced increasing pressure to resign from Harvard’s Jewish community and certain lawmakers, stemming from her remarks during a congressional hearing on December 5. Additionally, accusations of plagiarism related to past academic work surfaced in recent months.
“It is with a heavy heart but a deep love for Harvard that I will be stepping down as president,” Gay wrote in a letter to the Harvard community.
“After consultation with members of the Corporation, it has become clear that it’s in Harvard’s best interest for me to resign. This will allow our community to focus on the institution during these challenging times rather than any individual,” she added.
Gay’s departure comes during a tumultuous time for the renowned American university and marks the end of the tenure of Harvard’s inaugural Black president and second female leader in its nearly 400-year history.
Acknowledging the brevity of her tenure, Gay wrote, “I hope my brief presidency will be remembered as a moment of reawakening to the importance of our common humanity and the need to prevent discord and vitriol from undermining the vital process of education.”
She expressed distress over having her commitment to confronting hate and upholding scholarly rigor questioned. She also voiced her fear over personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus.
In a letter on Tuesday, the Harvard Corporation, the university’s governing body, defended Gay. They accepted her resignation “with sorrow”, stating she demonstrated “remarkable resilience in the face of deeply personal and sustained attacks.”
The board found a few more instances of “repeated language without proper acknowledgment” and announced that Gay would revise her 1997 dissertation and make necessary corrections. Over 700 university faculty members signed a letter expressing their support for Gay.
However, a number of Harvard alumni, including significant contributors, along with over 70 legislators, including two from the Democratic party, called for Gay’s resignation.