Claudine Gay, the first Black president of Harvard University, will remain in her position despite facing backlash for her handling of campus antisemitism and the Gaza conflict.

The Harvard Corporation, the university’s governing board, announced on Tuesday that it had decided to keep Dr. Gay as the president after a night of deliberation. The board expressed its support and confidence in Dr. Gay’s leadership, while also acknowledging that she had made some mistakes.

Dr. Gay, who took office in July, came under fire for her initial response to the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, which many felt was too weak and vague. She later issued stronger statements condemning the attack and the antisemitic slogan “from the river to the sea” used by some pro-Palestinian activists.

However, her critics were not satisfied, and her reputation suffered further after her congressional testimony on Dec. 5, where she dodged questions about antisemitism on campus from Representative Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York. The same questions led to the resignation of Elizabeth Magill, the president of the University of Pennsylvania, on Saturday.

Dr. Gay faced a pressure campaign from some donors, alumni and students who called for her ouster, as well as a counter-campaign from her supporters who defended her in several open letters. One of the letters, signed by about 700 faculty members, including many prominent Black professors, denounced the attacks on Dr. Gay as “specious and politically motivated” and urged the board to give her a chance to demonstrate her vision for Harvard.

One of Dr. Gay’s most vocal critics was William A. Ackman, a billionaire hedge fund manager and Harvard alumnus, who said in an interview earlier this week that she should resign for the good of the school. He said he did not see a scenario where she could survive for the long term or even the intermediate term.

Dr. Gay, who is also an educator and a mother, said she was shaken to the core by the accounts of Jewish students who felt isolated and targeted on campus. She announced the formation of an advisory group to help her develop a strategy for confronting antisemitism, and she attended a Shabbat dinner at Harvard Hillel, where she expressed her solidarity with the Jewish community.

Dr. Gay now faces the challenge of restoring the trust and unity of the Harvard community, which has been divided and disturbed by the Gaza conflict and its aftermath.

Harvard Dean Apologizes for Remarks on Antisemitism

Dr. Claudine Gay, the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, has issued an apology for her comments on antisemitism during a congressional hearing on Thursday.

Dr. Gay was testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which was examining the role of social media platforms in spreading misinformation and hate speech. She was questioned by Representative Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, about Harvard’s policies on bullying and harassment.

Rep. Stefanik asked Dr. Gay if calling for the genocide of Jews violated Harvard’s rules. Dr. Gay responded that it could be, depending on the context. She later clarified that antisemitic rhetoric that amounted to bullying, harassment, or intimidation was actionable conduct, and that Harvard did take action against such cases.

However, Rep. Stefanik pressed Dr. Gay to give a definitive answer, and Dr. Gay repeated that it depended on the context. This exchange sparked outrage on social media and among many people affiliated with Harvard, who accused Dr. Gay of being equivocal and insensitive on the issue of antisemitism.

On Friday, Dr. Gay apologized for her remarks in an interview with The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper. She said that she regretted causing distress and pain with her words, and that she should have been more clear and emphatic in her testimony. She also reaffirmed her commitment to combating antisemitism and protecting the Jewish community at Harvard.

She told The Crimson, “When words amplify distress and pain, I don’t know how you could feel anything but regret. I should have had the presence of mind to return to my guiding truth, which is that calls for violence against our Jewish community — threats to our Jewish students — have no place at Harvard and will never go unchallenged.”

Harvard President Survives Board Vote Amid Antisemitism Controversy