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University of Pennsylvania President Resigns Amidst Antisemitism Testimony Backlash

In a shocking turn of events, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill has resigned amidst widespread public outrage over her testimony to Congress on antisemitism. The announcement follows days of intense pressure from Penn alumni and elected officials, sparked by Magill’s controversial Capitol Hill appearance earlier in the week.

Magill faced severe criticism for her refusal, along with the presidents of Harvard and MIT, to unequivocally condemn calls for the genocide of Jews during the Congressional hearing. The public backlash reached a crescendo, leading to the likelihood that the school’s board of trustees would terminate her, prompting Magill to voluntarily tender her resignation.

Board of Trustees Chairman Scott L. Bok confirmed the resignation in a statement, expressing, “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.” Magill has agreed to stay on until an interim president is appointed.

The decision comes on the heels of major donor Ross Stevens rescinding a $100 million gift to the school in protest of its handling of antisemitism and Magill’s leadership. The Wharton business school’s board and the university’s board of trustees also urged Magill to resign, prompting an emergency meeting on Thursday to address the growing backlash.

Magill, in her statement, acknowledged the privilege of serving as the university’s president and expressed gratitude for the collaboration with faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members. Despite the challenges faced in recent days, she highlighted the institution’s remarkable nature.

The controversy surrounding Magill’s testimony escalated when she failed to outright state whether antisemitic chants and calls for the genocide of Jewish people violate the school’s code of conduct. Rep. Elise Stefanik pressed Magill during the hearing, asking for a clear yes or no response, leading to a series of evasive answers from the university president.

The ensuing firestorm prompted Magill to clarify her remarks in a subsequent statement, acknowledging her oversight during the hearing. She stated, “I was not focused on, but I should have been, on 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.”

Magill’s resignation marks a significant development in the ongoing debate around free speech, institutional responsibility, and the handling of sensitive issues on college campuses. The aftermath of this controversy will undoubtedly shape the discourse on these crucial matters within academic institutions across the nation.

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