The good news is that Claudine Gay has resigned as Harvard’s president. The bad news is that she is still on the faculty, drawing a $900,000 annual salary and teaching students.
The world knows that Gay’s downfall began during a House hearing on the rise in campus antisemitism related to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. During the hearing, she was asked by New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik if calls for the genocide of Jewish people on campus be considered harassment by Harvard.
Gay equivocated, saying that it depended on the “context” of those calls for Jewish genocide.
The reaction was swift and predictable. Major alumni and donors threatened to withhold billions of dollars in funds if Gay was not fired.
She wasn’t. Instead, the Harvard Corporation, the governing body of the 400-year-old college, circled the wagons around Gay—the first black woman to be president in the school’s history.
That was that.
But it wasn’t.
Reports of Gay’s unexceptional academic record, including some 50 incidences of outright plagiarism, began to surface, raising questions about her scholarly integrity as well as her qualifications for Harvard’s presidency.
Her anti-Semitism, combined with mounting allegations of academic plagiarism—not to mention the possible loss of billions of dollars in endowments, donations, and bequests—was too much even for the namby-pamby Harvard Corporation, and Gay announced her resignation this past Tuesday.
Depending on how you view the moldering and mendacious world of academia, there was both applause and condemnation following Gay’s announcement.
On one side, there was joy because Gay’s resignation was seen as the first domino in what may be many more resignations by leftist university administrators and faculty who have been accused of banning conservative expression on their campuses. That, as well as the use of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) rather than academic merit to pack faculties with leftist administrators and professors, has led critics such as Stefanik to insist that academia in America is filled with institutional rot. Ms. Stefanik, who graduated from Harvard in 2006, promised to continue her investigations of academia.
“The resignation of Harvard’s anti-Semitic plagiarist president is long overdue,” Stefanik said in a statement. “Claudine Gay’s morally bankrupt answers to my questions made history as the most viewed Congressional testimony in the history of the U.S. Congress. Her answers were absolutely pathetic and devoid of the moral leadership and academic integrity required of the President of Harvard. This is just the beginning of what will be the greatest scandal of any college or university in history. Our robust Congressional investigation will continue to move forward to expose the rot in our most “prestigious” higher education institutions and deliver accountability to the American people.”
Much of the news media predictably decried Gay’s resignation, whining during multiple on-air hang-wringing sessions that her departure was racially motivated, thereby echoing what an unrepentant Gay herself said in her resignation announcement.
“It has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigor – two bedrock values that are fundamental to who I am – and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus,” Gay said in her statement.
Tsk, tsk. How convenient that Gay was able to ignore her refusal to condemn the genocide of Jews during Harvard’s anti-Semitic demonstrations. And how fitting it was for Gay to disregard the 50—and counting—cases of academic plagiarism she has allegedly committed.
The fact that Harvard is keeping Gay on its faculty to teach Political Science to students says a lot about the institutional rot Rep. Stefanik is seeking to obliterate from academia.
That Harvard—long considered the pre-eminent institution of higher learning in America—is willing to allow a plagiarist to teach classes to its students tells me it has very little respect for those students or the rectitude and legitimacy of their education.
As a former college dean at a Big Ten university, I could not, nor would I have, tolerate having a dishonest scholar teaching in one of my classrooms. Doing so would make me complicit in that tainted professor’s deceit.
But perhaps Harvard believes it is so big that it feels it can violate all academic norms in order to push its DEI agenda—students be damned.
As I understand it, under normal Harvard faculty rules, it is up to the Research Integrity Officer in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to decide if there is enough doubt over Gay’s work for it to be fully investigated. After that, the faculty’s Standing Committee on Professional Conduct is required to start a full investigation, give Gay written notice of it, and find “individuals with the appropriate scientific expertise to evaluate the evidence and issues.”
Call me skeptical, but for some reason, I think the results of that investigation are already pre-determined.
After all, if it shows gross misconduct on Gay’s part in committing the unpardonable sin of academic plagiarism, what does it say about the due diligence of the Harvard Corporation in hiring Gay as president in the first place?
It would seem to me if THAT IS the case, then the entire Harvard Corporation needs to step down to accept responsibility for its incompetence.
Fat chance of that happening.
So, on we will go, with academia circling its wagons as critics assail one ivory tower after another in an attempt to restore honesty and esteem to what was once a venerated world.
My question is this: Is the institutional rot so deeply entrenched in academia that it can never be fully obliterated?
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