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Claudine Gay Controversy Puts Harvard's Board in Spotlight

By    |   Monday, 25 December 2023 10:56 AM EST

Much attention has been thrust upon Harvard's governing body amid the controversy involving university President Claudine Gay.

Lawmakers and Harvard graduates have been among those calling for Gay to be fired after she refused, during Dec. 6 testimony before Congress, to say whether on-campus calls for the genocide of Jews was against the school's policy. She also has been accused of plagiarism.

Members of the normally reclusive Harvard Corporation, the university's board, have been forced to explain what they plan to do regarding Gay and the school's reputation.

The corporation on Dec. 12 announced it would stand by Gay, who's also a board member. The New York Times reported Sunday that the president participated in pre-release discussions and had the opportunity to review the corporation's statement in her defense before it went public.

Since then, however, there have been rising demands, by powerful donors, alumni, and media figures, for Gay's removal.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Gay being Harvard's first Black president complicates the board's actions because there are concerns about the optics of a removal.

Two board members, the nonprofit founder Tracy Palandjian and the private-equity executive Paul Finnegan, last week were grilled by a small group of prominent academics at a Cambridge, Massachusetts, restaurant.

The professors didn't demand Gay's resignation but wanted an explanation of the board's plan to stabilize the school, according to Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, the Times reported.

"You need to be more out front of this," Jeff Flier, the former dean of Harvard Medical School, told the two board members, the Times reported.

"If people are saying the university is making mistakes — they are talking about you!"

Pinker said Palandjian and Finnegan's overall message was that "they kind of agreed with us" that the corporation had helped create some of the school's current problems.

Palandjian, the Times reported, told the dinner group that replacing Gay might not be going far enough to get Harvard back on course because the school required "generational change."

Some Harvard faculty members are calling for board members to resign or apologize.

The Journal reported that one Harvard professor has even suggested to Massachusetts Democrat Gov. Maura Healey a new governance structure that would allow lawmakers the chance to appoint a board member to represent the public interest.

"They're under pressure, that's obvious," Flier said, the Journal reported. "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 Times reported that private conversations with donors, professors and others revealed there are signs of tensions among board members.

The present 12-member Harvard Corporation was founded in 1650, and steered the university from behind closed doors and with minimal transparency for centuries.

In 2010, the corporation announced plans to expand from seven to 13 members and promised it would become more transparent and communicative to students and faculty.

Charlie McCarthy

Charlie McCarthy, a writer/editor at Newsmax, has nearly 40 years of experience covering news, sports, and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Much attention has been thrust upon Harvard's governing body amid the controversy involving university President Claudine Gay.
harvard, board, corporation, president, claudine gay
Monday, 25 December 2023 10:56 AM
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