Harvard President Claudine Gay is resigning following the intense backlash over comments she made about antisemitism on campus, along with claims that she has plagiarized.
“It is with a heavy heart but a deep love for Harvard that I write to share that I will be stepping down as president,” Gay wrote to the Harvard community on Tuesday. “This is not a decision I came to easily. Indeed, it has been difficult beyond words because I have looked forward to working with so many of you to advance the commitment to academic excellence that has propelled this great university across centuries.
“But, after consultation with members of the Corporation, it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual,” she added in the letter.
She will be resuming her faculty position at Harvard.
Gay has been under fire for several weeks after she testified in front of Congress about antisemitism on campus amid the Israel-Hamas war.
During the controversial Congressional hearing in front of a Republican-led House committee, Gay refused to characterize calls for the genocide of Jews as a breach of Harvard’s code of conduct. There has been a reported spike in antisemitism following the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel. Jewish and Israeli students have been threatened and assaulted on campus.
Many members of Congress and alums have been calling for her to resign since that explosive testimony.
“Sad as I am to be sending this message, my hopes for Harvard remain undimmed,” Gay said in the letter on Tuesday. “When my brief presidency is remembered, I hope it will be seen as a moment of reawakening to the importance of striving to find our common humanity — and of not allowing rancor and vituperation to undermine the vital process of education.
“I trust we will all find ways, in this time of intense challenge and controversy, to recommit ourselves to the excellence, the openness, and the independence that are crucial to what our university stands for — and to our capacity to serve the world,” she added.
Alan Garber, provost and chief academic officer, will serve as interim president.
“These past several months have seen Harvard and higher education face a series of sustained and unprecedented challenges,” the Harvard Corporation wrote in a letter on Tuesday. “In the face of escalating controversy and conflict, President Gay and the Fellows have sought to be guided by the best interests of the institution whose future progress and well-being we are together committed to uphold. Her own message conveying her intention to step down eloquently underscores what those who have worked with her have long known — her commitment to the institution and its mission is deep and selfless. It is with that overarching consideration in mind that we have accepted her resignation.
“We do so with sorrow,” the board added. “While President Gay has acknowledged missteps and has taken responsibility for them, it is also true that she has shown remarkable resilience in the face of deeply personal and sustained attacks. While some of this has played out in the public domain, much of it has taken the form of repugnant and in some cases racist vitriol directed at her through disgraceful emails and phone calls. We condemn such attacks in the strongest possible terms.”