Penn president steps down amid antisemitism charges

December 10, 2023
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Penn president Liz Magill resigned Saturday, less than a week after appearing before Congress.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images

After months of mounting pressure—and days after comments at a congressional hearing that prompted widespread outrage—University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill has resigned.

Magill stepped down voluntarily, according to a statement from Penn’s Board of Trustees.

“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,” Magill said in the board statement announcing her resignation.

Board chair Scott Bok also reportedly stepped down on Saturday.

The move comes as donors and lawmakers have criticized Magill for what they saw as her failure to offer a strong enough condemnation of antisemitism at Penn following the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas. While Magill’s initial statements were seen as tepid, her remarks Tuesday at a congressional hearing on antisemitism in higher education—especially her failure to clearly state that calls for genocide violated Penn’s policies—prompted broad outrage.

Donors, already seething, called for her job, as did powerful lawmakers. While Magill apologized and sought to clarify her comments in a video posted online, it did little to persuade her critics. Tensions were already high over her handling of a Palestinian literature festival this fall, which Penn allowed to proceed despite criticism from powerful Jewish advocacy organizations.

Her critics applauded the move, including Republican representative Virginia Foxx, chairwoman of the House education committee, who said in a statement she welcomes Magill’s departure.

Magill was one of three college presidents to address lawmakers at the House hearing alongside Sally Kornbluth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Claudine Gay of Harvard University. Lawmakers have subsequently called for all three presidents to be fired.




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