Harvard President Claudine Gay Resigns Following Plagiarism Allegations, Antisemitism Testimony

by EditorL
‘Not a decision I came to easily,’ former university head says.

Claudine Gay, president of Harvard University, testifies before the House Education and Workforce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington on Dec. 5, 2023. The Committee held a hearing to investigate anti-Semitism on college campuses. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Harvard President Claudine Gay has resigned following allegations of plagiarism, a month after testimony before Congress where she refused to state that calling for the genocide of Jews constituted harassment.
In a letter, Ms. Gay said that stepping down “is not a decision I came to easily.”
“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 wrote.

She took no responsibility for the plagiarism allegations nor the state of campus hatred toward Jews and Israel.

Despite the resignation as university president, Ms. Gay will remain a Harvard faculty member.

The school’s student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, first reported the resignation. Ms. Gay’s tenure was just over six months and is the shortest in the 387-year history of the school.

Ms. Gay has been accused of plagiarism stemming from her career in academia.

According to a report from The Washington Free Beacon, there were six new plagiarism charges against Ms. Gay in a report submitted anonymously to the school’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Hopi Hoekstra, the Research Integrity Office, and the Committee on Professional Conduct.
The plagiarism scandal began when conservative activist and Manhattan Institute fellow Christopher Rufo and Christopher Brunet flagged instances of plagiarism from her Ph.D. dissertation, titled “Taking Charge: Black Electoral Success and the Redefinition of American Policies.”

In the new complaint, the unnamed whistleblower accused Ms. Gay of plagiarism in both her publications and dissertation, calling on the university to open a “new research misconduct inquiry.”

“Now I am forced to submit an additional complaint with nearly 50 allegations, including over half a dozen examples never seen before,” the complaint read.

“Some of them occur in a publication by Gay that was until now believed to be free from allegations of plagiarism. Others occur in the dissertation.”

The first complaint, which came at a uniquely troubled time when Ms. Gay’s much-criticized remarks at a congressional hearing on anti-Semitism drew widespread doubt on her fitness for the presidency, involved seven of her 17 published works.

The second complaint now points to an eighth publication, a 2001 article that allegedly borrowed material verbatim from David Canon, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Specifically, the new complaint alleged that Ms. Gay took four unquoted sentences from Mr. Canon’s 1999 book “Race, Redistricting, and Representation: The Unintended Consequences of Black Majority Districts,” and used them in her article “The Effect of Minority Districts and Minority Representation on Political Participation in California.”

While Ms. Gay did include Mr. Canon in the bibliography, she did not cite him anywhere in or near the passage, according to the Beacon.

In response to the new complaint, however, Mr. Canon told the Beacon that he was “not at all concerned about the passages,” adding that this alleged incident is far from what could be described as academic plagiarism.

“I am not at all concerned about the passages,” the professor told the newspaper. “This isn’t even close to an example of academic plagiarism.”

The dissertation allegedly lifted a full sentence from Harvard political science professor Gary King’s 1997 book, “A Solution to the Ecological Inference Problem: Reconstructing Individual Behavior from Aggregate Data.”

Mr. King served as Ms. Gay’s thesis adviser.

“Ms. Gay does not cite King here and uses no quotation marks around verbatim language,” the complaint stated.

This would add to the three corrections in Ms. Gay’s dissertation that were announced last month following a review of her published scholarship by the Harvard Corporation, the university’s highest governing body.

In a summary of their initial review, an “independent panel of three experts” and a subcommittee of the Harvard Corporation, the university’s governing body, said they found “a few instances of inadequate citation,” but “no violation of Harvard’s standards for research misconduct.”

A letter signed by the Fellows of Harvard College, the university’s governing board, expressed appreciation for Ms. Gay’s service.

Alan M. Garber, provost and chief academic officer, will serve as interim president, and that the search for Ms. Gay’s successor “will begin in due course.”

The letter did not address the plagiarism or antisemitism controversies.

Antisemitism Hearing

Ms. Gay’s resignation comes a month after controversial testimony before Congress on antisemitism on college campuses amid the latest conflict between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas.

When asked by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House GOP, if calling for genocide against Jews is bullying or harassment, Ms. Gay demurred.

“It can be, depending on the context,” she said.

“Anti-Semitic rhetoric when it crosses into conduct, that amounts to bullying, harassment, intimidation, that is actionable conduct, and we do take action,” added Ms. Gay.

Ms. Gay later issued a statement apologizing for her answers.

“I am sorry,” she said in an interview with The Crimson on Dec. 7. “Words matter.”

“When words amplify distress and pain, I don’t know how you could feel anything but regret,” added Ms. Gay.

The Harvard Corporation stood by Ms. Gay following her testimony.

Ms. Stefanik, during the hearing, called for Ms. Gay’s resignation. In a statement, she celebrated her stepping down, calling it “long overdue.”

“Claudine Gay’s morally bankrupt answers to my questions made history as the most viewed Congressional testimony in the history of the U.S. Congress,” she said.

“Her answers were absolutely pathetic and devoid of the moral leadership and academic integrity required of the President of Harvard.”

Ms. Stefanik, a Harvard alum, called the resignation “just the beginning of what will be the greatest scandal of any college or university in history.”

In late November, the U.S. Department of Education announced an investigation into Harvard in light of antisemitism on its campus, which includes 3,200 Jewish undergraduate and graduate students, making up almost 27 percent of the student population.

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