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Harvard Alumni Association Executive Committee Asks Governing Boards to Publicly Back President Claudine Gay

The Harvard Alumni Association Executive Committee urged the University's governing boards to support Harvard President Claudine Gay Monday.
The Harvard Alumni Association Executive Committee urged the University's governing boards to support Harvard President Claudine Gay Monday. By Truong L. Nguyen
By Miles J. Herszenhorn and Claire Yuan, Crimson Staff Writers

Updated: December 12, 2023, at 1:19 a.m.

The Harvard Alumni Association Executive Committee expressed its unanimous support for Harvard President Claudine Gay and asked the University’s governing boards to publicly back Gay in a letter sent Monday.

The letter, which was signed by all 13 members of the committee, came as the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers — the University’s two governing boards — met on Monday to decide Gay’s fate at the helm of Harvard.

“We encourage the Fellows of Harvard College and Harvard University’s Board of Overseers to join us and issue a strong public pledge of support for our exceptional University President,” the letter stated.

The statement came after the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — remained silent for more than five days as Gay faced an onslaught of backlash over her remarks during a congressional hearing about antisemitism on college campuses.

More than 70 members of Congress released a letter on Friday calling on Gay to resign. The White House also issued a statement rebuking Gay over her remarks during the hearing.

The support did not only come from HAA leadership.

The Corporation was sent a separate letter on Monday — this time signed by more than 1,000 rank-and-file alumni — in favor of Gay continuing to remain at the helm of the University.

“Over her three decades as a professor and dean, she has made it clear that she is committed to fostering a university climate that does not tolerate harassment or bullying,” the letter stated. “While the current issues at play are complex, her commitment to fighting anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and racism has never wavered.”

In the HAA letter, the Executive Committee applauded Gay for apologizing for her remarks at the end of her testimony before Congress Tuesday, which sparked fierce criticism on campus and from lawmakers in Washington.

“President Gay is the right leader to guide the University during this challenging time,” the letter stated. “We are confident President Gay will address antisemitism, and other forms of hate, effectively and courageously.”

The governing boards are expected to make a decision on Monday that will decide whether Gay remains the leader of Harvard.

—Staff writer Miles J. Herszenhorn can be reached at miles.herszenhorn@thecrimson.com. Follow him on X @mherszenhorn or on Threads @mileshersz.

—Staff writer Claire Yuan can be reached at claire.yuan@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @claireyuan33.

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