The president of an Ivy League school resigned under immense pressure following her testimony before Congress on the subject of antisemitism on university campuses.
Former University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill announced she was stepping down on Saturday.
“It has been my privilege to serve as President of this remarkable institution. It has been an honor to work with our faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members to advance Penn’s vital missions,” she said in a statement.
Magill testified on Tuesday at a House hearing along with the presidents of Harvard and MIT. All three came under fire for what some perceived as evasiveness in their comments about how they would respond to calls for the genocide of Jews on their campuses.
Magill received significant criticism after footage of her exchange with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) made headlines. Stefanik asked, “I am asking specifically calling for the genocide of Jews; does that constitute bullying or harassment?”
“It is a context-dependent decision,” Magill responded.
Hedge fund billionaire and Harvard alum Bill Ackman was among the first people of prominence to publicly register his anger, posting his disdain for the trio’s testimony and calling on them to resign.
Ackman first stated that after the university presidents were asked whether calling for the genocide of Jews constituted bullying or harassment, they engaged in a discussion about context and refused to give what he considered a straightforward question a yes or no answer.
“They must all resign in disgrace,” he demanded.
Days later, the chorus of prominent figures in business and politics calling for Magill’s ouster by the university’s governing bodies reached a crescendo.
On Thursday, Penn graduate John Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, called on the institution to cut ties with Magill.
“We are anchored to the past until the trustees step up and completely cut ties with [the] current leadership. Full stop,” he told CNN.
The sentiment was echoed by six members of Congress from Pennsylvania in an open letter to Scott Bok, the chair of Penn’s board of trustees:
“President Magill’s testimony is a clear reflection of the pervasive moral and educational failures prevalent at your university and other premier universities across the country. On December 5th, she confirmed that hateful, dangerous rhetoric is welcomed on the grounds of one of the oldest higher education institutions in the United States. Her actions in front of Congress were an embarrassment to the university, its student body, and its vast network of proud alumni.”
The letter concluded that Magill should be fired “to protect the lives of Jewish American students at the University of Pennsylvania.”
The letter was signed by Reps. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Dan Meuser (R-PA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Joyce (R-PA), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).
Reportedly, minutes after Magill’s resignation was made public, Bok also resigned.
“Today, following the resignation of the University of Pennsylvania’s President and related Board of Trustee meetings, I submitted my resignation as Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, effective immediately,” Bok said in a statement, per The Daily Pennsylvanian. “While I was asked to remain in that role for the remainder of my term in order to help with the presidential transition, I concluded that, for me, now was the right time to depart.”
Other prominent figures to directly appeal to Penn to fire Magill included business mogul Ross Stevens, who threatened to rescind about $100 million in shares of Stone Ridge held by the university, according to CNN.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla also expressed his dissatisfaction with the presidents’ testimonies on X, calling it “one of the most despicable moments in the history of U.S. academia,” suggesting that the use of “context” could be used to “justify anything.”