Harvard Corporation Supports President Gay

The Harvard Corporation issued a statement of support for President Claudine Gay Tuesday morning.

Claudine Gay at the hearing

President Claudine Gay | Photograph by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Harvard Corporation sent an email Tuesday morning to the Harvard community, including alumni, expressing support for President Claudine Gay’s continued leadership of the University. The statement noted that Gay had apologized for her handling of testimony before Congress, and has committed to redoubling the University’s fight against antisemitism.

The Corporation letter also contained previously undisclosed news about three scholarly articles authored by Gay. After an independent review of the work in question, initiated at President Gay’s request and conducted by “distinguished political scientists,” Gay has requested “four corrections in two articles to insert citations and quotation marks that were omitted from the original publications.”

The letter ends:

In this tumultuous and difficult time, we unanimously stand in support of President Gay. At Harvard, we champion open discourse and academic freedom, and we are united in our strong belief that calls for violence against our students and disruptions of the classroom experience will not be tolerated. Harvard’s mission is advancing knowledge, research, and discovery that will help address deep societal issues and promote constructive discourse, and we are confident that President Gay will lead Harvard forward toward accomplishing this vital work.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

 

Updated December 12, 2023, 11:15 a.m., with the Corporation’s full statement and a comment from Gay’s dissertation adviser.

The Harvard Corporation’s full statement to the community read:

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

As members of the Harvard Corporation, we today reaffirm our support for President Gay’s continued leadership of Harvard University. 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.

So many people have suffered tremendous damage and pain because of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack, and the University’s initial statement should have been an immediate, direct, and unequivocal condemnation. Calls for genocide are despicable and contrary to fundamental human values. President Gay has apologized for how she handled her congressional testimony and has committed to redoubling the University’s fight against antisemitism.

With regard to President Gay’s academic writings, the University became aware in late October of allegations regarding three articles. At President Gay’s request, the Fellows promptly initiated an independent review by distinguished political scientists and conducted a review of her published work. On December 9, the Fellows reviewed the results, which revealed a few instances of inadequate citation. 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.

In this tumultuous and difficult time, we unanimously stand in support of President Gay. At Harvard, we champion open discourse and academic freedom, and we are united in our strong belief that calls for violence against our students and disruptions of the classroom experience will not be tolerated. Harvard’s mission is advancing knowledge, research, and discovery that will help address deep societal issues and promote constructive discourse, and we are confident that President Gay will lead Harvard forward toward accomplishing this vital work.

The Fellows of Harvard College

Penny Pritzker, Senior Fellow
Timothy R. Barakett, Treasurer
Kenneth I. Chenault
Mariano-Florentino (Tino) Cuéllar
Paul J. Finnegan
Biddy Martin
Karen Gordon Mills
Diana L. Nelson
Tracy P. Palandjian
Shirley M. Tilghman
Theodore V. Wells, Jr.

 

In recent days, online commentaries have alleged that Gay’s dissertation contained passages taken from other scholars’ work, without attribution. Her dissertation and other scholarship are discussed in detail in this Harvard Magazine profile. One of the people interviewed for that profile was Gary King, now Weatherhead University Professor, a pioneering quantitative social scientist, some of whose methodologies and statistical techniques Gay deployed in her research—and one of her dissertation advisers.

Asked today about her dissertation, King emailed, “The allegations of plagiarism in Claudine Gay's dissertation are false and absurd. Her dissertation and every one of the numerous drafts I read leading up to the final version met the highest levels of academic integrity.” 

He continued, “Also, please think about how implausible these allegations are: if you were going to commit plagiarism, would you plagiarize your adviser’s work and expect to get away with it? Plagiarism is (according to Google), ‘the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.’ No one could read her dissertation as claiming to have invented the methods in my book, which she cites prominently, and which the academic community and even the courts (where the methods are used in cases related to the Voting Rights Act) credit my book.” 

 

Updated December 12, 2023, 12:35 p.m.: Du Bois professor of the social sciences Lawrence Bobo, who is dean of social science, and whose work was cited in the dissertation, emailed about Gay’s reference to his research, explicitly echoing King’s comments and adding, “In no way did she attempt to take credit for our work or ideas. Indeed, as I’ve already indicated in other public statements, she fully and explicitly acknowledged our research. I do not believe anything further need be said.”

 

Updated December 13, 2023, 8:42 a.m.: Five former Harvard Presidents—Lawrence S. Bacow, Derek Bok, Drew Gilpin Faust, Neil L. Rudenstine, and Lawrence H. Summers—have issued a statement of support for President Claudine Gay. The statement reads: 

As former Presidents of Harvard University, we offer our strong support for Claudine Gay as she leads Harvard into the future. We look forward to supporting President Gay in whatever ways we can as Harvard faces this challenging moment for higher education and the wider world.

Read more articles by: Jonathan Shaw

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