The University of Pennsylvania is in turmoil as its president, Liz Magill, announced her resignation on Saturday. Magill’s decision came after facing mounting pressure from various groups, including the powerful board of the Wharton Business School, to step down over controversial remarks she made during her testimony before Congress.
In a statement released by the university’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Scott L. Bok, he confirmed that Magill “voluntarily tendered her resignation as President of the University of Pennsylvania.” He further added that she will remain a tenured faculty member at Penn Carey Law. The school will be announcing new interim leadership in the coming days, and Magill will stay on until a replacement is appointed.
The president of the University of Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Magill, resigned on Saturday, four days after her testimony at a congressional hearing about campus responses to antisemitism. Here is some background on her decision. https://t.co/rEfr201tmV
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 10, 2023
Magill’s resignation follows her controversial remarks during her testimony before the Committee on Education & the Workforce on Friday. When asked if calling for the genocide of Jews would violate the school’s code of conduct on bullying and harassment, Magill did not explicitly say that it would. Instead, she responded that the speech would not be considered harassment unless “the speech turns into conduct.”
This led to a confrontation with Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, who expressed her shock and disapproval of Magill’s answer. “‘Conduct’ meaning committing the act of genocide? The speech is not harassment? This is unacceptable,” Stefanik fired back during the hearing.
The pressure for Magill to resign intensified even further when the Wharton Board of Advisors issued a scathing letter expressing their concerns about the university’s leadership. In the letter, they stated that the university’s leadership “does not share the values of our Board” and has failed to address the toxic culture on campus that has been allowed to continue by a select group of students and faculty.
— Brick Suit (@Brick_Suit) December 7, 2023
The letter also stated that the university needed “new leadership with immediate effect” due to the leadership’s “collective failure to act” and their lack of understanding of the urgency to address the safety of students and the university’s reputation.
Amid the controversy, Magill released a statement, saying, “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.”
As the University of Pennsylvania searches for new leadership, the board of the Wharton Business School remains committed to improving the campus and ensuring the safety of its students. The university’s reputation has been tarnished due to the controversy, and it remains to be seen how the new leadership will address the issues raised by the board and other groups. Only time will tell if the University of Pennsylvania can regain its positive reputation and move forward from this challenging situation.