Claudine Gay has resigned from her role as president of Harvard University amid allegations of plagiarism, reports the Harvard Crimson. Gay — who was the university’s first Black president — was in her position for only six months, making hers the shortest tenure of any president in the university’s history.
“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 in a letter to the university community. “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.”
Calls for Gay’s resignation began in early December, following her appearance before Congress to discuss campus antisemitism. In fact, during her testimony, Gay was told to resign multiple times by Republican representative Elise Stefanik, who deemed the former university president’s answers “unacceptable.” Those answers included saying that she would not “punish students for their views,” but rather “hold them accountable for their conduct and behavior.”
Following the hearing, University of Pennsylvania president Elizabeth Magill gave in to pressure to resign from her post. Meanwhile, conservative writers and activists Christopher F. Rufo and Christopher Brunet led the charge examining Gay’s previous scholarship. They compared passages from her 1997 dissertation to several other scholarly works, finding similarities throughout. According to the New York Times, instances of plagiarism “span her dissertation and about half of the 11 journal articles listed on her résumé,” with allegations ranging from “brief snippets of technical definitions to lightly paraphrased summaries of other scholars’ work without quotation marks or direct citation.”
Despite the allegations, Gay was backed by the Harvard Corporation, the university’s board. In December, the board stated that an independent review of Gay’s work revealed “a few instances of inadequate citation” but nothing that violated Harvard’s standards for “research misconduct.” They noted that Gay was “proactively requesting four corrections in two articles to insert citations and quotation marks that were omitted from the original publications.”
In responding to her resignation, the Harvard Corporation remained by Gay’s side, writing, “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.”