Liz Magill, U. Penn’s president, and board chair resign as antisemitism testimony draws backlash

by Ethan Kim
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University of Pennsylvania Resignation

In response to heightened scrutiny and donor pressure following her testimony in a U.S. House committee on antisemitism, Liz Magill, president of the University of Pennsylvania, has tendered her resignation. This move comes amid controversy over her inability to definitively state that advocating for the genocide of Jews breaches the university’s conduct guidelines. Concurrently, Scott Bok, the chairman of Penn’s Board of Trustees, announced his immediate resignation during a trustees’ meeting on Saturday evening, shortly after confirming Magill’s departure.

Magill, in her second year as president, faced criticism for her handling of alleged antisemitic incidents at the university. Bok, a Magill supporter, defended her against these allegations, describing her as a capable and non-antisemitic leader. However, the prolonged scrutiny and the contentious congressional hearing led to their joint decision that her continuation in the role was untenable.

Magill will continue as a tenured faculty member at Penn’s Carey Law School and serve as interim president until her successor is appointed. The controversy intensified following Magill’s testimony at a House committee hearing on antisemitism on college campuses, alongside the presidents of Harvard and MIT. This scrutiny comes amid a global rise in antisemitism and controversies surrounding Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Key Points:

  1. Liz Magill’s resignation was catalyzed by her testimony at a House committee hearing on college campus antisemitism, where she struggled to address whether advocating Jewish genocide violates Penn’s conduct policy.
  2. The issue was notably highlighted by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and led to intense national scrutiny of not only Penn but also Harvard and MIT.
  3. Despite Magill’s subsequent clarification, the criticism continued, leading to her resignation and that of Board Chairman Scott Bok.

Magill’s resignation, according to U.S. Senator Bob Casey, D-Pa., offers an opportunity for Penn to address campus antisemitism afresh. This development follows earlier criticisms of Penn for allowing events perceived as antisemitic, including a Palestinian literary arts festival.

Magill, a former Stanford Law School dean and University of Virginia administrator, was hired last year as Penn’s ninth president. Bok, also the CEO of Greenhill & Co., chose to resign amidst this turmoil.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has urged state colleges to promptly address antisemitism and genocide advocacy, affirming the state’s commitment to enforcing related laws. This follows misrepresentations of pro-Palestinian rally chants at Penn and other universities as calls for “Jewish genocide,” a claim experts and advocates dispute.

The report includes contributions from Big Big News writers Bruce Shipkowski and Phil Marcelo.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about University of Pennsylvania Resignation

Why did University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resign?

Liz Magill resigned from her position as the president of the University of Pennsylvania following intense criticism and pressure from donors over her testimony at a U.S. House committee hearing on antisemitism. During the hearing, she was questioned about whether advocating for the genocide of Jews would violate the university’s conduct policy, and her responses were deemed unsatisfactory, sparking backlash.

What led to the resignation of Penn’s Board Chair Scott Bok?

Scott Bok, the chairman of the University of Pennsylvania’s Board of Trustees, resigned shortly after announcing Liz Magill’s departure as president. His resignation came amid the controversy surrounding Magill’s handling of antisemitism issues at the university, for which he had previously defended her.

What was the nature of the testimony that led to Magill’s resignation?

The testimony that led to Liz Magill’s resignation occurred during a U.S. House committee hearing on antisemitism on college campuses. She was repeatedly asked if calls for the genocide of Jews would breach the university’s conduct policy and her inability to provide a clear response triggered widespread criticism.

Will Liz Magill continue to be associated with the University of Pennsylvania?

Yes, Liz Magill will remain associated with the University of Pennsylvania as a tenured faculty member at the university’s Carey Law School. She has also agreed to continue serving as the university’s leader until an interim president is appointed.

How has the issue of antisemitism on college campuses been addressed in the wider context?

The issue of antisemitism on college campuses has been a topic of national concern in the U.S., with universities facing accusations of not adequately protecting Jewish students. This issue has gained attention amid rising global antisemitism and controversies surrounding Israel’s actions in Gaza. The situation has led to increased scrutiny of university policies and responses to antisemitic incidents on campuses.

More about University of Pennsylvania Resignation

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Liz Magill Resignation
  • Antisemitism on College Campuses
  • Congressional Hearing on Antisemitism
  • Higher Education Leadership
  • University Conduct Policies
  • Global Antisemitism Trends
  • Israel-Gaza Conflict
  • U.S. House Committee Hearings
  • Academic Responses to Antisemitism

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