What to Know About Claudine Gay, Harvard’s Embattled President

The president of Harvard, Claudine Gay, is facing the biggest test of her career, as the university’s governing board met behind closed doors on Monday amid calls for her removal.

Dr. Gay and the leaders of the University of Pennsylvania and M.I.T. came under attack for their testimony in a congressional hearing last week on campus antisemitism. The presidents faced blowback for what were seen as lawyerly, evasive answers about whether students should be disciplined if they called for the genocide of Jews.

Penn’s president, Elizabeth Magill, resigned on Saturday, and pressure was mounting at Harvard, with dueling letters both supporting Dr. Gay and calling for her ouster.

Here are some key points to know about Dr. Gay and what led to this moment.

Who is Claudine Gay?

Dr. Gay, 53, took office in July, becoming the first Black president and the second woman to lead Harvard.

The daughter of Haitian immigrants, she earned an undergraduate degree in economics from Stanford University — where she would later teach — and a Ph.D. in government from Harvard.

She joined Harvard’s faculty in 2006, serving as a professor of government and of African and African American studies. She became dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 2018.

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