A timeline of Harvard President Claudine Gay's short, scandal-plagued tenure

Gay announced her resignation as president on Tuesday.

January 2, 2024, 8:17 PM

Harvard University President Claudine Gay announced her resignation on Tuesday, following mounting accusations of plagiarism and backlash for her response at a congressional hearing in December to questions about antisemitism on U.S. college campuses.

Gay was the first person of color and second woman in Harvard University's 386-year history to serve as president. Her tenure as president is the shortest in the school's history.

She will resume her faculty position at Harvard, according to the university's main governing board.

Here's a look at what led up to her resignation as president.

The Harvard University campus is seen from above, Dec. 12, 2023, in Cambridge, Mass.
Brian Snyder/Reuters, FILE

Dec. 15, 2022

Harvard announces that Gay, the Edgerley Family dean of Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, will succeed current university President Larry Bacow, who stepped down after five years in office.

July 1, 2023

Gay becomes the 30th president of Harvard.

Oct. 7, 2023

Several Harvard student groups issue a statement after Hamas launched terrorist attacks in Israel that killed more than 1,200 stating that Israeli policies -- referencing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza -- are "entirely responsible for all unfolding violence."

The letter prompts fierce backlash, with some Jewish students at the university saying they felt isolated and scared following the letter's publication, claiming it supported the Hamas attack. The students behind the letter deny supporting Hamas and say the backlash has led to a doxxing campaign against students believed to be connected to the letter.

Oct. 24, 2023

The New York Post approaches Harvard asking for comment "on more than two dozen instances in which Gay's words appeared to closely parallel words, phrases or sentences in published works by other academics," according to the publication.

Gay subsequently asks the Harvard Corporation -- Harvard's main governing board -- to initiate an independent review of her published work.

Nov. 30, 2023

Harvard University joins a growing list of institutions being investigated for complaints of antisemitism and Islamophobic discrimination on campus.

The investigations have been opened under Title VI, a law that bans discrimination based on race, color or national origin in any institution or program that receives federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education.

Dec. 5, 2023

Gay and two other university presidents -- University of Pennsylvania's Liz Magill and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sally Kornbluth -- are grilled before the House Education Committee over how they handled antisemitism on campus amid the Israel-Hamas war.

In a tense back-and-forth, New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik asks Gay the hypothetical question: "Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard's rules on bullying and harassment?"

Gay responds, "The rules around bullying and harassment are quite specific and if the context in which that language is used amounts to bullying and harassment, then we take, we take action against it."

Stefanik subsequently calls for Gay and the other presidents, who gave similar responses, to resign.

Dr. Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, testifies before the House Education and Workforce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building, Dec. 5, 2023, in Washington.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images, FILE

Dec. 6, 2023

Gay responds to backlash over her comments during the congressional hearing, saying, "There are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students."

"Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic group are vile, they have no place at Harvard," she says, adding, "Those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account."

Dec. 7, 2023

In an interview with the Harvard Crimson, Gay apologizes for her remarks during the congressional hearing, saying, "Words matter."

"When words amplify distress and pain, I don't know how you could feel anything but regret," Gay tells the publication.

Dec. 9, 2023

Magill voluntarily resigns as president of the University of Pennsylvania in the wake of the congressional hearing. She will remain a tenured faculty member at Penn Carey Law, the university's board said.

Dec. 12, 2023

Amid questions over Gay's fate following the hearing, the Harvard Corporation issues a statement unanimously affirming its support for the president.

"Our extensive deliberations affirm our confidence that President Gay is the right leader to help our community heal and to address the very serious societal issues we are facing," the Harvard Corporation says in the statement.

The board also addresses the plagiarism allegations, saying an independent review of three articles Gay published "revealed a few instances of inadequate citations."

"While the analysis found no violation of Harvard's standards for research misconduct, President Gay is proactively requesting four corrections in two articles to insert citations and quotation marks that were omitted from the original publications," the board says.

Dec. 19, 2023

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, publishes an anonymous complaint addressed to the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences Research Integrity Office that alleges nearly 40 instances of plagiarism by Gay.

Dec. 20, 2023

Harvard says it found two additional instances of "duplicative language without appropriate attribution" in Gay's 1997 dissertation, which had not been part of the original independent review, but that they did not amount to "research misconduct," The New York Times reports. The university says Gay will update her dissertation "correcting these instances of inadequate citation," the Times reports.

In a letter to the Harvard Corporation, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce says it has begun a review of Harvard's handling of "credible allegations of plagiarism" by Gay over 24 years.

Students walk through the Harvard University campus, Dec. 12, 2023, in Cambridge, Mass.
Mel Musto/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

Jan. 1, 2024

The Washington Free Beacon publishes an anonymous complaint leveling six more accusations of plagiarism against Gay.

Jan. 2, 2024

Gay announces her resignation as president in a lengthy letter to the school community.

"This is not a decision I came to easily. Indeed, it has been difficult beyond words because I have looked forward to working with so many of you to advance the commitment to academic excellence that has propelled this great university across centuries."

"But, after consultation with members of the Corporation, it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual," the statement continued.

Alan Garber, provost and chief academic officer, will serve as interim president until a new leader takes office, according to the Harvard Corporation.

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