Harvard University’s president resigns following plagiarism accusations and furore over comments on anti-Semitism

2 January 2024, 19:33

Claudine Gay has resigned as Harvard president.
Claudine Gay has resigned as Harvard president. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Claudine Gay has resigned as Harvard President just months into her tenure.

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Dr Gay resigned on Tuesday following plagiarism accusations and criticism over a testimony she made about anti-Semitism on campus.

It comes after she has faced mounting pressure to step down in recent weeks.

In a letter announcing her resignation, she said the decision was in the “best interests of Harvard”.

“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,” Dr Gay wrote.

“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.”

Dr Gay faced backlash after her December 5 congressional testimony where she was unable to say that calls on campus for the genocide of Jews would violate the school’s conduct policy.

The Harvard President described such calls for the genocide of Jews as abhorrent but said whether it violated the conduct policy would depend on the context they were made in.

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Dr Gay resigned on Tuesday.
Dr Gay resigned on Tuesday. Picture: Alamy

She later apologised but added that her comments had been taken out of context.

US media outlets have since reported instances of alleged plagiarism in her academic record and has allegedly faced 50 separate accusations, according to the MailOnline.

Harvard’s board investigated the claim and identified two published papers that required additional citation.

This, however, was not found to be a violation of the board’s “standards for research misconduct”. The board said Ms Gay would update her dissertation and request corrections.

She also said in her resignation letter on Tuesday: "It has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigour.

"This is not a decision I came to easily. Indeed, it has been difficult beyond words.”

She had been in the role for just six months and was the first black person and second woman to take on the position of Harvard President.

Alan M Garber, provost and chief academic officer, will serve as interim president until Harvard finds a replacement, the board said in a statement.

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