University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill testifies before a House Education and Labor Committee hearing titled “Hold campus leaders accountable and combat anti-Semitism” on Capitol Hill in Washington, United States, on December 5, 2023.

Ken Cedeno | Reuters

Liz Magill, president of the University of Pennsylvania, has resigned after being criticized for her testimony at a congressional hearing on anti-Semitism on campus. She had difficulty answering a question about whether calling for genocide against Jews violated the university’s rules.

Scott Bok, chairman of the UPenn Board of Trustees, also said he would resign following the announcement of Magill’s resignation.

According to a UPenn statement, Magill has decided to submit her resignation “voluntarily” but remains a tenured faculty member at the university’s law school.

Magill and Penn’s board of trustees did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Magill has faced increasing pressure to resign in recent days after she questioned at a House Education and Workforce Committee hearing whether calls for genocide against Jews would violate Penn’s code of conduct.

Over 70 MPs signed a non-partisan agreement letter called for Magill’s resignation on Friday, along with Harvard University President Claudine Gay and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth, who also failed on the issue.

“One less. Two left,” said House Speaker Elise Stefanik, R-NY, who asked the question at Tuesday’s hearing. “This is just the beginning of combating the pervasive decline of anti-Semitism that has destroyed America’s most ‘prestigious’ higher education institutions.”

Based on the presidents’ responses, the House committee also launched an investigation into the three colleges.

At the hearing, Stefanik asked the three presidents for a “yes or no” answer on whether calling for genocide against Jews violated the rules of their respective universities.

“If the speech leads to behavior, it may be harassment,” Magill testified. “It’s a contextual decision, Congresswoman.”

Kornbluth and Gay also responded that whether these calls would be considered rule violations would depend on the context.

Major donors and university graduates have now spoken out against those responsible.

Hedge fund manager and Harvard alumnus Bill Ackman said in a social media post that the presidents’ statements reflect the “moral and ethical failings” of elite colleges.

“You all need to resign in disgrace,” Ackman added.

The White House also condemned the university administrators, although press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre did not call for her resignation at a briefing because the schools are private institutions.

In a brief farewell statement, Magill said it had been a “privilege” to serve as Penn’s president. Her resignation comes after just over a year at the helm. She previously served as provost at the University of Virginia.

Source : www.cnbc.com

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