Harvard University President Claudine Gay, seen here in December 2023, is stepping down amid a firestorm of controversy at the university. Credit: Ken Cedeno / Reuters

Leaders in the Atlanta University Center reacted to news of the sudden resignation of former Harvard University president Claudine Gay last week.

“It is with a heavy heart but a deep love for Harvard that I write to share that I will be stepping down as president,” Gay wrote in a letter to the Harvard community.

The resignation comes after controversy over Gay’s testimony during a congressional hearing regarding her and other university presidents improperly handling antisemitic harassment towards Jewish people on campus. 

“Legitimate concerns regarding antisemitism on college campuses are being used as a wedge to divide us by those fearful of an emerging leadership of American institutions that reflects our diversity,” said Dr. David Thomas, President of Morehouse College. 

Gay also faced allegations of plagiarism in an early 2000s article regarding minority representation in political participation in California.

“After consultation with members of the [Harvard] Corporation, it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this movement of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual,” Gay wrote in that beforementioned letter.

With Gay becoming the first Black person to lead the Ivy League school in its 400-year history, many wonder if her decision was racially motivated. 

“Looking beyond the unfortunate and highly complicated set of circumstances that led Dr. Gay to submit her resignation as President of Harvard University, I think it is incumbent on all of us, both in academia and outside of academia, to be mindful of the vital role that women, and especially Black women, continue to play in leadership positions across a wide range of professions,” said Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, President and CEO of Morehouse School of Medicine.

Harvard’s Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Alan Garber, will serve as interim president until a new one is announced. 

“We thank President Gay for her courage and vision as she began leading Harvard and regret that she will not be able to see her vision fulfilled,” said Dr. Helene Gayle, President of Spelman College.