After months of scrutiny, Harvard President Claudine Gay announced her resignation Tuesday, making hers the shortest term in the university’s history.
Her resignation comes less than a month after she and other leaders of prestigious universities testified before Congress about antisemitism on campus in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war. Critics attacked Gay and the other presidents for their statements on free speech and antisemitism, which snowballed into further scrutiny of Gay and allegations of plagiarism in her past.
Here’s what we know about the months preceding Gay’s resignation:
October 7: Harvard student group blames Israel for Hamas attack — A coalition of student groups at Harvard released a statement blaming Israel for the violence shortly after Hamas launched a devastating attack on Israel. The letter linked the attacks to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and called on Harvard to “take action to stop the ongoing annihilation of Palestinians.”
October 10: Gay condemns Hamas — Gay released a statement condemning the “terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas” and affirming that “no student group — not even 30 student groups — speaks for Harvard University or its leadership.” Several major donors who support Israel cut ties with the university.
November 28: US Department of Education opens investigation — The Department of Education opened an investigation into Harvard “for discrimination involving shared ancestry,” an umbrella term that encompasses both antisemitism and Islamophobia.
December 5: Gay testifies before Congress — Gay and the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were called to testify before Congress about disciplinary actions taken in the face of antisemitism.
Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York asked Gay if Harvard would take disciplinary action against students or applicants who say “from the river to the sea” or “intifada,” the Arabic word for “uprising.”
Gay said that while she did see that speech as “abhorrent” and “at odds with the value of Harvard,” the university still embraces “a commitment to free expression even of views that are objectionable, offensive, hateful.”
December 9: Plagiarism allegations — As calls continued for Gay to resign after her testimony, Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge fund CEO and vocal supporter of Israel, posted claims that Gay had plagiarized some of her academic work on social media.
December 15: Gay corrects two academic articles — Gay requested corrections to two scholarly articles published in 2001 and 2017 following allegations of plagiarism. Harvard commissioned an independent review of Gay’s writings following the accusations, which revealed inadequate citations in a few instances but “no violation of Harvard’s standards for research misconduct.”
December 21: More corrections are requested — A Harvard spokesperson said the university reviewed more of Gay’s academic work, and the president plans to update her 1997 PhD dissertation to correct additional instances of “inadequate citation.”
January 2: Gay resigns — Gay announced her resignation just six months after taking office, saying in her resignation letter that it is “frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus.” Gay said in her letter she would return to a faculty position.