Dec 7, 2023 - Business

Wharton board calls on Penn president Liz Magill to resign

University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill testifying in front of Congress. Photo:: Haiyun Jiang/Bloomberg via Getty Images

University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill is being asked to resign by the board of Penn's Wharton business school, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Pressure is mounting on Magill and several other Ivy League leaders, following their widely-panned testimony earlier this week during a congressional hearing on antisemitism.

  • Earlier today, Axios reported that a wealthy donor pulled a $100 million gift to the school, citing Magill's appearance in D.C. as a key reason.

What they're saying: Wharton's board of advisors wrote in a letter to Magill that it has held "an unprecedented" eight meetings since its regularly scheduled Nov. 16 meeting, mostly focused on student safety and other community issues related to antisemitism and "hate-based behavior" on Penn's campus.

"[The Board] has been, and remains, deeply concerned about the dangerous and toxic culture on our campus that has been led by a select group of students and faculty and has been permitted by University leadership ...
As a result of the University leadership's stated beliefs and collective failure to act, our board respectfully suggests to you and the Board of Trustees that the University requires new leadership with immediate effect."

News of the letter was first reported by Penn's student newspaper.

Behind the scenes: A source familiar with the situation said that neither Magill nor Board of Trustees Chair Scott Bok attended the Nov. 16 meeting, as they traditionally have done.

  • That meeting, which originally was expected to focus on artificial intelligence, instead was dominated by a Dean's discussion of the damage the university's response to the Israel-Hamas war is doing to Wharton.
  • The meeting concluded with a series of unanimous resolutions that were included in the letter to Magill.
  • Those resolutions primarily focused on changing Penn's code of conduct to, among other things, state that neither students, faculty, nor staff are to "celebrate or advocate for the murder, killing, genocide, or annihilation of any individual classmate or any group of individuals in our community."
  • Magill met around one week ago with Wharton's board, but declined to make the requested changes. The board's decision to request her resignation came following her congressional testimony.

Read the full letter, with the proposed resolutions in the appendix:

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