Claudine K: Harvard President Won’t Lose Job Over Congress Controversy

  • By Madeline Halbert
  • BBC News

image source, Good pictures

image caption,

Claudine Kay testified before Congress last week along with the leaders of the University of Pennsylvania and MIT.

Harvard University President Claudine Kay says she will keep her job despite mounting controversy after appearing before Congress last week.

Dr Kay faced pressure to resign after failing to say whether students calling for the genocide of the Jewish people would be disciplined.

But nearly 700 employees rallied behind him in a letter over the weekend.

In a statement Tuesday, the school board “reaffirms[ing] Our support for his leadership.

“Our extensive discussions confirm our belief that President Kay is the right leader to help our community heal and address the most pressing social issues we face,” said the Harvard Corporation, the university’s highest governing body.

“At this tumultuous and difficult time, we stand unanimously in support of President Kay,” the 13-member panel added.

The news that Dr. Kay will be president comes days after University of Pennsylvania president Elizabeth McGill announced her resignation after facing similar backlash over her own congressional testimony.

Dr Kay testified at a House of Representatives hearing on anti-Semitism last week, alongside Ms Magill and Massachusetts Institute of Technology president Sally Kornbluth.

Under tense questioning from Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Dr. Kay said she believes calls for the genocide of Jews are hateful, but said whether it violates Harvard’s code of conduct on bullying and harassment depends on the context.

Crimson later apologized in an interview with Harvard’s campus newspaper.

“I don’t know how you can feel anything other than upset when the words add up to the suffering and the pain,” she said.

In its statement, the Harvard Corporation said calls for genocide were “abhorrent” and that Dr Kay’s initial statement “should have been an immediate, direct and unequivocal condemnation”.

But the school noted that Harvard’s president apologized for how he handled his testimony before Congress.

“Harvard’s mission is to advance knowledge, research, and innovation that will help solve profound social problems and encourage creative discourse, and we are confident that President Kay will lead Harvard forward in fulfilling this important mission,” the board said.

Nearly 700 faculty members signed a petition over the weekend asking Harvard to “resist political pressures inconsistent with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom” and to keep Dr. Kay as president.

Meanwhile, more than 70 lawmakers, mostly Republicans, have called for Dr Kay’s resignation, saying his responses to the inquiry were “disgusting”.

Appointed in July, he is the university’s first black president in its 368-year history.

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