Penn president resigns after anti-Semitic criticism

Harrisburg, PA. (AP) - The president of the University of Pennsylvania has resigned. Amidst pressure and criticism from donors During testimony at a congressional hearing, where she was unable to say when repeatedly asked whether calling for the massacre of Jews on campus would violate the school's conduct policy.

Scott Bok, chairman of the Ivy League school's board of trustees, also resigned immediately during a trustees meeting Saturday evening, just hours after Bok announced his departure as chair of Liz Magill, in just her second year.

Bok, a supporter of Magill, defended him through several months of criticism over the university's handling of various alleged acts of anti-Semitism.

She called him a good man and a talented leader who is not "anti-Semitic in the slightest," but gave a legalistic and wooden response after months of criticism and hours of questioning in congressional hearings.

"Subsequently, it became clear that his position is no longer valid, and he and I have decided together that the time has come for his exit," Bok said in a statement announcing his resignation.

The university said Magill will remain a tenured faculty member at the University's Carey Law School. She has agreed to serve as Penn's leader until the university names an interim president.

After this, demands began to arise for Magill's dismissal. tuesday's testimony On the U.S. House Committee on Anti-Semitism on College Campuses, where she appeared with the presidents of Harvard University and MIT.

Universities across the US have been accused of failing to protect Jewish students amid rising cases Fear of anti-Semitism around the world and the consequences of Israel's intensification war in gazaWhich is facing increasing criticism Palestinian death toll,

All three presidents were called before the committee to answer to those charges. But his legal answers renewed blowback from opponents, notably Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. Questions focused on Penn, who repeatedly asked whether "calling for the genocide of the Jews" would violate Penn's code of conduct.

"If speech turns into conduct it can be harassment, yes," Magill said. Pressed further, Magill told Stefanik, "It's a context-dependent decision, Congresswoman."

Harvard President Claudine Gay and MIT President Sally Kornbluth gave similar responses to Stefanik, and Bok pointed this out.

Magill made a "very unfortunate mistake – consistent with the two peer university leaders sitting next to him – after five hours of aggressive questioning in front of a congressional committee," Bock said.

Nevertheless, criticism of Magill continued from the White House, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, members of Congress, and donors. One donor, Ross Stevens, threatened to withdraw a $100 million gift because of the university's "stance on anti-Semitism on campus" unless Magill was replaced.

A day later, Magill addressed the criticism, saying in a video that she would consider calls for the genocide of the Jewish people to be harassment or threats and that Penn's policies needed to be "clarified and evaluated."

This did not quell the criticism.

In a statement Saturday, Stefanik said Magill's "forced resignation" is the "necessary minimum" and said Harvard and MIT should follow suit.

"One down. Two to go," Stefanik said, "This is the beginning of addressing the widespread rot of anti-Semitism that has destroyed the most 'prestigious' institutions of higher education in America."

U.S. Senator Bob Casey, D-Pa. Said that Magill's resignation allows Penn "to chart a new path to addressing anti-Semitism on campus."

Bok said he was asked to remain chairman to help with the transition to the new president, but decided now was the best time for him to step down.

Even before Tuesday's hearing, Magill was under fire from some donors and alumni this fall. Some had also called for the resignation of Bok, who had defended Magill amid criticism over the university's handling of various alleged acts of anti-Semitism.

This included allowing it to hold a Palestinian literary arts festival on its campus in September, which would feature speakers whose past statements about Israel had drawn accusations of anti-Semitism.

Magill, 57, a former law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court, is the daughter of a retired federal judge and was dean of Stanford University's law school and a top administrator at the University of Virginia before Penn appointed her as its ninth president last year.

Bok is the chairman and CEO of investment bank Greenhill & Company.

Earlier Saturday, New York's governor called on the state's colleges and universities to swiftly address cases of anti-Semitism and what he described as "calls for genocide" on campus.

in a letter To college and university presidents, Governor Kathy Hochul said her administration would enforce violations of state human rights law and refer any violations of federal civil rights law to U.S. authorities.

Hochul said that the chancellors of the State University of New York and City University of New York systems have confirmed to him that "calling for genocide of any group or tolerating anti-Semitism is a violation of the codes of conduct on their campuses" and that “There will be prompt disciplinary action.”

has been a popular slogan at pro-Palestine rallies at Penn and other universities misrepresented in recent months as calls for "Jewish genocide".

Experts and advocates say the slogan "Israel, we accuse you of genocide" is a typical refrain heard at pro-Palestinian rallies. Both Jews and Palestinian supporters acknowledge that the protesters are not saying "We want a Jewish genocide."


Associated Press writers Bruce Shipkowski in Toms River, New Jersey, and Phil Marcello in New York contributed to this report.

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