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Tags: harvard | claudine gay | resign

Harvard Board Members Under Pressure to Resign

By    |   Tuesday, 26 December 2023 11:42 AM EST

As Harvard University continues to struggle with historic damage to its reputation and calls persist for embattled President Claudine Gay to resign, the Ivy League school’s board members are now facing demands from faculty members to step down.

“They’re under pressure, that’s obvious,” former Harvard Medical School Dean Dr. Jeffrey Flier told The Wall Street Journal. “They are the fiduciary body and no one will deny that Harvard’s reputation has taken a very substantial hit in the world. … It’s on their watch that it’s happening.”

The strain the board is under is a mix of new and longstanding concerns. Politicians, alumni, and donors contend that the school has not done enough to protect Jewish students from harassment in the wake of Palestinian militant group Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Meanwhile, faculty who worried about the impact of diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus free speech feel newly emboldened to discuss their concerns.

Accusations of plagiarism have weakened some of the initial support Gay received from faculty, with one even suggesting that a state member should be appointed to the university’s board.

The 12-member Harvard Corporation is the oldest corporation in the Western Hemisphere, according to its website, with current members including the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a former CEO of American Express, and a former U.S. commerce secretary.

New members are selected by current ones, and terms are six years and renewable. From 1650 to 2010, the board was capped at seven people, including the president; following a series of reforms, the number of seats on the board expanded to 13. One faculty member told the Journal the board doesn’t answer to anyone except God.

The outlet spoke with numerous Harvard professors who said the board’s downhill spiral began when it selected Gay as president of the nearly 400-year-old institution in December 2022.

They were concerned that she lacked the necessary experience for the position and was hired without being properly scrutinized.

“It’s a risky choice to elevate somebody who has not had years and years of experience in a presidential or presidential-like role,” Jennifer Hochschild, professor of government and African and African-American Studies, and a longtime Gay supporter, told the Journal.

Other faculty members are reportedly unhappy that Gay testified before Congress on campus antisemitism and panned the board for not adequately evaluating her work after the allegations of plagiarism.

Adding to Gay’s problems is the fact that she is the first Black leader of Harvard.

“She’s become a symbol of a movement and if she has to resign, that sends a terrible signal,” Dr. Jeffrey Fredberg, a Harvard research professor of bioengineering and physiology, told the Journal. “So it’s just a no-win situation here.”

Bioengineering and applied physics professor Kit Parker told the outlet the school is at a crossroads, and members of the corporation need to step down for its direction to change.

“The big question now is, How arrogant is Harvard?” Parker said. “And when I say Harvard, I mean the Harvard Corporation. Do they think this is going to go away?”

Citing a clause in the Massachusetts Constitution that grants authority over Harvard to the state legislature, one faculty member pitched installing a government official on the board in an effort to provide more transparency and increase accountability.

A spokeswoman for Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey told the Journal that she is aware of the proposal and looks forward to reviewing it.

When asked about faculty criticism of the board, Harvard spokesman Jonathan Swain pointed to the corporation’s statement from earlier this month.

“I’ll refer you to the corporation’s Dec. 12 statement of unanimous support for President Gay,” he told the Journal.

Nicole Wells

Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

As Harvard University continues to struggle with historic damage to its reputation and calls persist for embattled President Claudine Gay to resign, the Ivy League school's board members are now facing demands from faculty members to step down. "They're under pressure,...
harvard, claudine gay, resign
Tuesday, 26 December 2023 11:42 AM
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