The president of the University of Pennsylvania Liz Magill has resigned from her post amid fierce criticism over her poor handling of soaring anti-Semitism on campus.
Her resignation comes just days after a disastrous hearing before Congress where she was summoned to try and explain her lack luster response.
In a statement, Magill said: ‘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.’
Her resignation was confirmed on Saturday in an email to the UPenn community by Scott L. Bok, Chair of the school’s Board of Trustees.
Bok later announced his own resignation following Magill’s decision to step down, effective immediately.
The president of the University of Pennsylvania Liz Magill has resigned from her post amid fierce criticism over her poor handling of soaring anti-Semitism on campus
Magill resigned on Saturday following calls for her to quit which only ramped up after she appeared before Congress to explain her response to the anti-Semitism
‘I write to share that President Liz Magill has voluntarily tendered her resignation as President of the University of Pennsylvania. She will remain a tenured faculty member at Penn Carey Law,’ he said.
‘On behalf of the entire Penn community, I want to thank President Magill for her service to the University as President and wish her well.
‘We will be in touch in the coming days to share plans for interim leadership of Penn. President Magill has agreed to stay on until an interim president is appointed.’
Bok quickly resigned as chair of the school’s Board of Trustees soon after.
‘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,’ he said in a statement.
‘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.’
He acknowledged that Magill had made an error during her disastrous Congressional testimony and described it as a ‘dreadful 30-second sound bite’.
Magill stepped down amid mounting pressure which only ramped up following the congressional hearing on Tuesday.
She appeared along with the heads of Harvard and MIT over their lack luster responses to attacks against Jewish students.
Magill was slammed for her testimony, in which she said that reprimanding students who call for a Jewish genocide was not paramount – but ‘context’ specific.
She was asked a ‘yes or no’ question on whether calls for the genocide of Jews counted as hate speech, and repeatedly said it depended on the context.
On Wednesday she attempted to clarify her comments, but the damage was done: a wealthy alumnus withdrew a $100 million donation, and her remarks were roundly condemned by the ADL, the White House and politicians across the board.
Magill issued a groveling video statement attempting to explain her failure to condemn calls for the genocide of Jewish people on campuses.
She said she was not ‘focused’ on the issue, and said she wanted to ‘be clear’ that calls for genocide were ‘evil, plain and simple’ – although she said the blame lay with her university’s policies and the constitution, rather than with her.
Magill said: ‘There was a moment during yesterday’s Congressional hearing on antisemitism when I was asked if a call for the genocide of Jewish people on our campus would violate our policies.
‘In that moment, I was focused on our university’s long-standing policies – aligned with the U.S. Constitution – which say that speech alone is not punishable.
The former president will remain a tenured faculty member at Penn Carey Law
The university’s board held crisis talks on Tuesday but ‘nothing’ happened, according to sources. A second meeting was set for Sunday before the announcement came
‘I was not focused on, but I should have been, the irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate. It’s evil, plain and simple.’
Magill said she hoped to draw a line in the sand, and clarify her position.
‘I want to be clear: a call for genocide of Jewish people is threatening, deeply so,’ she said.
‘It is intentionally meant to terrify a people who have been subjected to pogroms and hatred for centuries, and were the victims of mass genocide in the Holocaust.
‘In my view it would be harassment or intimidation.’
But, Magill said, it was not officially classed as harassment – a policy she said was outdated and needed review.
Magill pledged to work to update the existing rules.
‘For decades under multiple Penn presidents and consistent with most universities, Penn’s policies have been guided by the Constitution and the law,’ she said.
‘In today’s world, where we are seeing signs of hate proliferating across our campus and our world in a way not seen in years, these policies need to be clarified and evaluated.
‘Penn must initiate a serious and careful look at our policies.’
She concluded that she was ‘committed to a safe, secure and supportive environment so all members of our community can thrive. We can, and we will, get it right.’
On Thursday, as the House Education Committee said they were investigating the issue further, the board of Wharton – the world’s first business school, founded in 1881 at the University of Pennsylvania – said Magill needed to resign.
In a letter addressed to her, they said leadership of the university needed to change ‘with immediate effect’.
Magill on Wednesday tried to explain her equivocation when asked if calling for the genocide of Jewish people was hate speech
In a letter addressed to Magill, the Wharton Board said leadership of the university needed to change ‘with immediate effect’
‘As a result of the University leadership’s stated beliefs and collective failure to act, our Board respectfully suggests to you and the Board of Trustees that the University requires new leadership with immediate eﬀect.’
The board, in a letter first obtained by The Daily Pennsylvanian, describes their concern about ‘dangerous and toxic culture’ at Penn that they said the University leadership has allowed to exist.
The letter added that the University leadership ‘does not share the values of our Board.’
The House Education and the Workforce Committee said it will probe the elite schools with the ‘full force of subpoena power,’ after presidents Claudine Gay, Sally Kornbluth, and Magill’s astonishing words and actions.
Her resignation comes after crisis talks where ‘nothing’ happened were held earlier in the week.
The Board was due to meet again Sunday to discuss Magill stepping down before she offered to go.
At the time of her resignation, a petition calling for her to be sacked had received more than 26,000 signatures.
Magill had been in post since July last year, but her and it appears her poor stewardship of clashes between Pro Palestine and Israel supporters will become her legacy.
Several high profile donors threatened to withdraw or have already removed their funding amid the controversy.
Among them was Ross Stevens, the founder and CEO of New York-based Stone Ridge Asset Management, who said he withdrew his $100 million donation in disgust over Penn’s handling of anti-Semitism.