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Bill Ackman demands Harvard to cut ties with plagiarism-plagued president Claudine Gay: ‘They need to act now’

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The plagiarism and antisemitism scandals surrounding Harvard University President Claudine Gay have tarnished the reputation of the prestigious institution, according to billionaire and Harvard graduate Bill Ackman. He said that even if Gay steps down, the damage will not be undone unless the Harvard Corporation, the university’s top governing body, admits that they made a mistake in appointing her.

Bill Ackman calls for Claudine Gay to step down amid controversy(Reuters/AP)
Bill Ackman calls for Claudine Gay to step down amid controversy(Reuters/AP)

In a lengthy X post on Saturday, Ackman wrote that the Harvard Corporation has been “unwilling to acknowledge that they made a bad choice of leader” and that they can only restore the university’s status as one of the world’s leading academic centers “when the Corporation board members acknowledge that they made a bad choice of leader”.

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He added that the board members are “digging a deeper whole [sic] for themselves” by delaying Gay’s removal and avoiding the accusation of racism.

“When your CEO has done the indefensible, you must take immediate action to replace her. If you don’t, you become culpable in what was initially only her failures,” he wrote.

“They need to act now.”

ALSO READ| Will Claudine Gay follow Liz Magill’s exit? Calls mount for Harvard president’s resignation

Allegations against Harvard President

Gay, who is facing growing pressure to resign, has been accused of plagiarizing dozens of times in her academic publications, including her 1997 doctoral dissertation and four other papers between 1993 and 2017. An internal investigation by Harvard revealed more than 40 instances of plagiarism by Gay.

The Harvard President is also under fire for her handling of the antisemitism crisis on campus, which erupted after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. Harvard has been criticized for its lack of response to the antisemitic incidents and protests that occurred on campus, and is being probed by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Department of Education under Title VI, a law that prohibits discrimination based on race, religion or national origin in federally funded institutions.

Ackman, who is Jewish, has been vocal in his opposition to Gay and her leadership. Earlier this month, he called for Gay to be fired, along with former University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and MIT President Sally Kornbluth, after they testified before Congress about the antisemitism situation on their campuses.

Notably, Magill and UPenn Board of Trustees Chair Scott Bok resigned on Dec. 9 after facing backlash from donors over their testimony.

Ackman also said that Harvard refused to fire Gay because doing so “would look like they were kowtowing to me.”

ALSO READ| Barack Obama backed Harvard’s Claudine Gay amid antisemitism controversy: Report

Ackman has been active in the fight against antisemitism in the US since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, demanding that Harvard release the names of the students who blamed Israel for the attack and calling for the suspension of a Harvard student newspaper editor.

In November, he urged the Harvard Law Review to discipline its editor after he was filmed obstructing the path of a person who appeared to be a supporter of Israel during a protest.

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