U Penn President Steps Down After Outcry

Elizabeth Magill, whose answers on antisemitism sparked a backlash, will remain on the faculty
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2023 9:00 AM CST
Updated Dec 9, 2023 4:49 PM CST
After U Penn Chief's Remarks, $100M Donation Is Withdrawn
University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill listens to a question during a House hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday in Washington.   (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
UPDATE Dec 9, 2023 4:49 PM CST

This file has been updated with Scott Bok's resignation.
Elizabeth Magill, the University of Pennsylvania president who had been pressured to resign since her congressional testimony this week about antisemitism on campus, said Saturday that she's stepping down. She will remain a tenured law faculty member, the Daily Pennsylvanian reports. Magill, who made the announcement in a university-wide email, will stay in the job until a temporary successor is chosen. The chair of the school's trustees said Magill is leaving voluntarily, per NBC News. After confirming Magill's exit and praising her as "not the slightest bit antisemitic," Scott Bok issued a statement saying he's leaving, too, per CNN.

Dec 9, 2023 9:00 AM CST

University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill is facing calls to resign after backlash on how she answered questions on Capitol Hill over antisemitism on campus, but the school itself is now also suffering the consequences of the controversy. The BBC says it has seen an email from "appalled" donor Ross Stevens, founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, who now says he's pulling back a $100 million grant due to Magill's remarks. "I have clear grounds to rescind Penn's $100 million of Stone Ridge shares due to the conduct of President Magill," Stevens wrote to Penn, slamming the university's "permissive approach" to reported calls of violence against the Jewish community.

Stevens' donation, gifted in 2017, had been earmarked for Penn's Wharton business school to build a finance innovation center. Stevens said in his email that he was open to changing his mind on the donation withdrawal, "if, and when, there is a new university president in place." That apparent call for Magill's resignation was echoed by a letter seen earlier this week by Axios from the Wharton school's board of advisers, which, after a series of meetings, "respectfully suggests to [Magill] and the Board of Trustees that the university requires new leadership with immediate effect."

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The Daily Pennsylvanian, the university's student newspaper that first reported on the undated letter, also makes a note of Penn's "Free Speech FAQs," which lays out the rules regarding free expression and hate speech at the university. The rules say that offensive speech "is only subject to discipline if the inflammatory speech intentionally and effectively provokes a crowd to immediately carry out violent and unlawful action." CNN Business, meanwhile, notes that Magill seems to be under fire more so than the other elite college chiefs who testified on Capitol Hill with her, namely because "Penn's campus has been roiled by controversies about the conflicts in the Middle East for longer than other schools," as well as due to "Magill's multiple unsuccessful attempts to satisfy critics." (More antisemitism stories.)

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