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Understanding the Lack of Faculty Support for Liz Magill after her Testimony – My MBA Career



Last Updated on December 18, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes

Title: Presidents of Top US Universities Face Calls for Resignation Amidst Controversy

In a recent congressional committee hearing on antisemitism, the presidents of three prestigious American universities, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have found themselves amidst a storm of controversy. Calls for their resignation have emerged, with only one president bowing down to the mounting pressure so far.

Liz Magill, the president of the University of Pennsylvania, has tendered her resignation following the hearing, while Harvard’s Claudine Gay and MIT’s Sally Kornbluth have received support from their respective faculty members and governing boards. More than 650 Harvard faculty members signed a letter in support of President Gay, highlighting her dedication to addressing critical campus issues. In contrast, a group of current and former MIT faculty members penned a letter backing President Kornbluth, acknowledging her strong leadership and commitment to the institution.

Nonetheless, it is worth noting that President Magill did not receive a similar show of support from the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. The faculty senate at Penn is now circulating a letter opposing external interference with academic policies and academic freedom, which has garnered over 880 faculty signatures. Explaining the lack of support for Magill, faculty members at Penn have cited differences in tenure, ongoing issues on campus, and the presidents’ racial and religious identities.

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The divisions within the Penn faculty have posed a challenge in organizing a united response. However, some faculty members believe that Magill’s apparent lack of support may not reflect the true sentiment among faculty, suggesting her resignation may have been influenced by board actions rather than a lack of backing.

The situation has sparked a broader conversation on the need for faculty members to have a more prominent voice in shaping institutional governance and advocating for academic priorities. The faculty senate letter at Penn is seen as the catalyst for this discourse, hinting at the desire for a stronger faculty voice and involvement in decision-making processes.

As this saga unfolds, it remains to be seen whether the remaining university presidents will continue to face calls for their resignation or if efforts to enhance faculty representation and shared governance will bring about a meaningful change. One thing is clear: academia is undergoing a period of introspection and transformation, with the spotlight firmly fixed on its leadership and commitment to upholding academic freedom and inclusivity.

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