Harvard President Claudine Gay Will Remain in Office. What’s Next for Her Tenure at the University?

Harvard student journalists beat national press to the punch, reporting that their president would stay on amid controversy.

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This story is syndicated from The Harvard Crimson, the newspaper of Harvard University. The original version of the story ran here.

Harvard President Claudine Gay is not going anywhere — at least for now.

The Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — announced that the board’s 11 members “unanimously stand in support of President Gay,” in a University-wide email Tuesday morning.

The statement came after the board remained silent for nearly a week following Gay’s controversial congressional testimony, as the body weighed whether to ask her to resign less than six months after her tenure began.

But the Corporation’s decision to publicly back Gay only offered short-term clarity about her future at the helm of Harvard. The statement issued on Tuesday said the board agreed to keep Gay as president after “extensive deliberations,” an extraordinary acknowledgment that the Corporation questioned whether to proceed with Gay as Harvard’s leader.

The statement amounted to a rebuke of Gay by 11 members of the 15-person presidential search committee that selected her to serve as the University’s 30th president.

Meanwhile, the Corporation also announced it addressed allegations of plagiarism in Gay’s academic work, the latest scandal to hit Harvard’s embattled president. Though the body said Gay’s work did not violate the University’s research standards, Gay is requesting corrections to two articles.

The Corporation directly acknowledged several of the criticisms levied against Gay over the past two months, stating that after the Israel-Hamas war, the University’s initial response “should have been an immediate, direct, and unequivocal condemnation.”

As Gay’s fate was left in limbo over the weekend, hundreds of faculty and alumni rallied to her support. But even with the outpouring of support — and the Corporation’s official backing — she will face immense challenges as she seeks to repair relationships, ease tensions on campus, and respond to critics with large platforms in Congress and on Wall Street.

Gay’s Path Forward

The resolution reached by the Corporation on Monday gave Gay’s presidency a new lease on life, providing her with a chance to win back the support of those on campus who lost faith in her leadership.

If Gay hopes to pacify some of her fiercest critics, she will need to increase efforts across the University to combat hate, in particular antisemitism and Islamophobia.

Gay wrote in an emailed statement to The Crimson Tuesday that she is “committed to this work and to the people of Harvard.”

“The work ahead is formidable but clear — to rid our community of hate, to make sure our students are and feel safe, and to preserve free expression on our campus,” Gay wrote. “I’m confident we can succeed.”

Gay also indicated that she intends to rely on partnerships with individuals and groups that have served as some of her loudest detractors to ease tensions on campus.

“I know there are people of good will and deep love for Harvard who are ambivalent or even disappointed about where we are right now,” Gay wrote. “I will need their help and their ideas to build the community we all deserve. And I ask for it.”

“I hope through my actions and through our community’s steady progress in the weeks, months and years ahead, Harvard will remain a source of pride and inspiration in all of our lives,” she added.

Gay, however, did not comment further on the plagiarism allegations over some of her academic work. She had previously acknowledged the allegations in a brief statement Monday morning, in which Gay said she stands by the integrity of her scholarship.

Through it all, Gay will be able to count on the support of her five immediate predecessors as president of Harvard. Former Harvard presidents Lawrence S. Bacow, Derek C. Bok, Drew Gilpin Faust, Neil L. Rudenstine, and Lawrence H. Summers signed onto a joint statement Tuesday afternoon to back Gay at the helm of the University.

Pictured from top to bottom, left to right: Former Harvard Presidents Lawrence H. Summers, Lawrence S. Bacow, and Drew Gilpin Faust, and current University President Claudine Gay sit in front of Massachusetts Hall.

Pictured from top to bottom, left to right: Former Harvard Presidents Lawrence H. Summers, Lawrence S. Bacow, and Drew Gilpin Faust, and current University President Claudine Gay sit in front of Massachusetts Hall. By Julian J. Giordano

“As former Presidents of Harvard University, we offer our strong support for Claudine Gay as she leads Harvard into the future,” the former presidents wrote. “We look forward to supporting President Gay in whatever ways we can as Harvard faces this challenging moment for higher education and the wider world.”

The statement was notably signed by Summers, who repeatedly criticized Gay in public over her handling of the University’s response to the Israel-Hamas war and the tensions on campus.

Chief Critics Remain

Though Harvard’s governing boards have allowed Gay to stay on at the helm of the University, she still has to answer to her most persistent and vocal critics.

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik ’06 (R-N.Y.), who has repeatedly called for Gay’s resignation, blasted the Harvard Corporation’s decision at a press conference Tuesday.

“This is a moral failure of Harvard’s leadership and higher education leadership at the highest levels,” Stefanik said.

“The only update to the code of conduct is to allow a plagiarist as the president of Harvard,” she added.

Stefanik, alongside three other House lawmakers, introduced a bipartisan resolution Tuesday demanding the resignation of Gay and MIT President Sally A. Kornbluth.

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik '06 authored a resolution calling for Harvard President Claudine Gay and MIT President Sally A. Kornbluth to resign.

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik ’06 authored a resolution calling for Harvard President Claudine Gay and MIT President Sally A. Kornbluth to resign. By Miles J. Herszenhorn

Bill A. Ackman ’88, a hedge fund billionaire and major donor to the University, took to X on Monday night to criticize the Corporation’s decision to allow Gay to remain president.

Ackman, who has used his large social media following to serve as the chief agitator among Gay critics, reshared posts on X throughout the day that criticized the decision to allow Gay to remain in office and discussed the plagiarism allegations against her.

“So much for Veritas,” he wrote.

A Divided Campus

One of Gay’s most difficult tasks going into her second semester will be calming tensions on a campus that remains bitterly divided over the fighting in Israel and Gaza. She will also continue to face criticism from students who claim Gay’s administration has not done enough to combat antisemitism and Islamophobia or support Jewish and Muslim students.

Many students criticized Gay for her response to a question from Stefanik during the congressional hearing last week about whether calls for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s bullying and harassment policies.

Last week, Jacob M. Miller ’25, president of Harvard Hillel, wrote in a statement to The Crimson that Gay’s testimony called into question her ability to protect Jewish students on Harvard’s campus.

Miller, a Crimson Editorial editor, did not take a stance on the Corporation’s decision to allow Gay to remain in her post in a statement on Tuesday. But Miller also expressed that Hillel remains open to collaborating with Gay in their efforts to combat antisemitism on campus.

“We remain ready to work with President Gay to educate our campus on the very real threat of antisemitism and look forward to working with her on this important issue,” Miller wrote.

Some pro-Palestine students on campus criticized the Corporation’s statement for not addressing the conflict itself but rather focusing on the controversy surrounding Gay.

Violet T.M. Barron ’26, an organizer with Harvard Jews for Palestine, wrote in a statement to The Crimson that she was “most concerned that the Corporation’s statement did not include a redoubling of efforts to fight anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia.”

“The calls for Gay’s removal — and false charges of antisemitism on college campuses more broadly — have only served to distract from the ongoing genocide in Gaza,” added Barron, a Crimson Editorial editor.

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