Jan 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

MIT president under pressure after Gay resignation

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

All eyes are on MIT president Sally Kornbluth after two other major university leaders who testified at a congressional hearing about antisemitism on campuses last month lost their jobs in the political maelstrom that followed.

Why it matters: Kornbluth leads the country's No. 2 university and is a big player in Boston's economy, teaching and fostering the scientific industries Massachusetts specializes in.

Context: University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill was the first to go.

  • After seeming to weather the storm, Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned Tuesday.
  • Gay wrote in the New York Times a day after stepping down as Harvard's first Black president that she had received death threats and been "called the N-word more times than I care to count."

Threat level: The three presidents faced immediate backlash for equivocating when pressed as to whether calls for violence against Jews violated their universities' codes of conduct, but the fallout is still continuing to snowball, writes Axios' Sareen Habeshian.

  • Republicans who had demanded their resignations now say they aren't done yet.

Like Gay, Kornbluth has received shows of support from MIT faculty and the university's board.

Yes, but: Some Republican lawmakers in Congress have signaled they want to see all three university leaders go.

  • New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, whose questioning prompted the firestorm, said Tuesday that Gay's resignation was "just the beginning" of investigations into antisemitism at elite colleges.

The big picture: Gay's resignation was huge national political news, a shock to the higher education world and a blow to Black academia.

  • Losing Kornbluth as well as Gay could impact the state's burgeoning life sciences sector and the thousands of jobs associated with MIT.
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