Neil Gronowetter

Don’t fire Claudine Gay. Here’s why…

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik asked president Claudine Gay three times in a row during congressional testimony if calls for genocide against Jews violated Harvard’s code of conduct. Gay equivocated all three times. Instead of answering yes, she said that it depended on the context, and whether speech turned into conduct.

Gay portrayed herself as a free speech absolutist during her Congressional testimony. In reality, Harvard and other elite universities’ administrations routinely bring down their full weight against those who might offend protected classes that aren’t Jews.

Harvard disinvited Devin Buckley, a feminist philosopher, for her views on gender and trans issues – not conduct – in 2022. In 2021, Harvard canceled a course on police counterinsurgency tactics in response to a student petition. Harvard fired David Kane, a political science instructor, in 2020, for inviting controversial “The Bell Curve” author and social scientist Charles Murray to speak to his class.

After Gay’s disastrous testimony, The Free Beacon, a conservative news site, broke the story that Gay “plagiarized numerous academics over the course of her academic career, at times airlifting entire paragraphs and claiming them as her own work, according to reviews by several scholars.”

Gay even lifted another scholar’s thank you / acknowledgement section!

Dr. Jennifer L. Hochschild wrote of a mentor who “showed me the importance of getting the data right and of following where they lead without fear or favor,” and “drove me much harder than I sometimes wanted to be driven.”

In Dr. Gay’s dissertation acknowledgments the next year, she thanked her family, who “drove me harder than I sometimes wanted to be driven.” And she thanked her thesis adviser, Gary King, who “reminded me of the importance of getting the data right and following where they lead without fear or favor.”

Harvard’s own guide to using sources specifically states: “It doesn’t matter whether the source is a published author, another student, a website without clear authorship, a website that sells academic papers, or any other person: Taking credit for anyone else’s work is stealing, and it is unacceptable in all academic situations, whether you do it intentionally or by accident.”

Gay clearly, unambiguously, plagiarized.


If a Harvard freshman committed these same acts, they would have faced discipline or expulsion.

Billionaire hedge fund owner, Bill Ackman, a man with two Harvard degrees, has been the most prominent unelected proponent for Gay’s resignation. Ackman tried and failed to use the tools that a Wall Street hedge fund owner might use against a corporation that failed to act in the best interest of its shareholders. He publicly promoted unflattering information about the shortcomings of an organization’s leadership, in order to induce change that otherwise wouldn’t occur. He incorrectly assumed that a university, like a publicly traded corporation, would buckle in the face of damage to its reputation.

Corporate shareholders, however, clearly have different motivations from university trustees and tenured faculty.

Harvard’s trustees unanimously declared their support for Gay.

The trustees’ full-throated unanimity outpaced Enver Hoxha’s Communist Party victory with only 93% of the vote in Albania in 1945 and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who locked up a slightly better 95% of the vote in 2021. Gay’s vote of confidence from Harvard trustees, however, did match the Iraqi presidential referendum of 2002, which Saddam Hussein won with an equally impressive 100% of the vote.

Harvard trustees and professors circled the wagons. They ignored her abysmal testimony, her woeful plagiarism, and her administration’s failure to stem antisemitic speech and conduct on campus.

Among the Harvard Corporation power players behind the scenes: billionaire and former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. She became Harvard Corporation’s senior fellow after donating $100 million to Harvard’s economics department. It was Pritzker who led Harvard’s search for its most recent president – Claudine Gay.

Harvard’s board declined to say who at the Harvard Corporation was in charge of reviewing Gay’s work, or which outside academics, if any, they asked to assist. Ironic that after Gay repeatedly failed to attribute proper credit in her research papers, the board similarly failed to accept credit – or blame – for their review failures.

Did they do their jobs and bury the results? Or did they fail to do their due diligence?

It would be a profile in courage for Pritzker to lead the battle against her own choice. But that’s not going to happen.

Adding to the palace intrigue: Pritzker was an early, seminal backer of Barack Obama when he transitioned from US Senator to President.

Who, behind the scenes, also pushed for Gay to keep her job? None other than #44 himself, former President Barack Obama.

Theories abound as to why Obama would go to bat for Gay:

Does the first Black US President feel a kinship with Harvard’s first Black president? It’s not an unreasonable inference or connection.

Each one broke a major glass ceiling with their ascent to power. Each milestone is a point of pride for their community.

Others, however, might draw another connection – a common thread of failures regarding Jews and Israel:

  • Obama posing and smiling in a 2005 photo with Nation of Islam leader Rev. Louis Farrakhan – a photo that didn’t see the light of day until 2018
  • His pre-presidential, 20-year close friendship with, financial support of, and intellectual affinity for Jeremiah Wright, the church leader who called upon his congregants to “damn” America and who sympathized with Hamas. Obama never left the church during those decades.
  • Obama overseeing the National Security Agency to spy on Israeli leaders and officials in private conversations with US lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. This allowed the Obama administration to uncover talking points with Jewish-American groups against the Iran deal, and figure out how to sway which undecided lawmakers to win their votes.
  • Obama greenlighting the delivery of $1.7 billion in cash to Iran in April, 2016, which it could then use to fund terror.
  • Obama’s administration incorrectly claiming that the US was unable to wire those funds to Iran, when the US had previously wired money to Iran in 2015 and 2016.
  • The Obama administration abstaining from voting on a UN Security Council resolution that demanded an immediate halt to all Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, thus allowing the measure to pass in 2016.
  • “You have to admit that nobody’s hands are clean, that all of us are complicit to some degree,” Obama said about the Israel-Hamas war, in a November 2023 podcast.

So why would any reasonable person with a moral compass – let alone a proud Jew who opposes antisemitism – possibly want Claudine Gay to stay where she is?

Because Harvard has unambiguously revealed its moral rot, hypocrisy, and failings as a premier institution of higher learning. And I’m a big fan of transparency.

Harvard came in dead last with the worst possible score, 0.00 out of 100.00, on the free speech rankings list of 203 universities.

The zero score actually rounded up!

“Its actual score is -10.69, more than six standard deviations below the average and more than two standard deviations below the second-to-last school in the rankings, its Ivy League counterpart, the University of Pennsylvania.”

Its Jewish students are not free to walk on campus without Hamas supporters intimidating or harassing them.

Gay had a chance to answer a reasonable question before Congress. She failed to answer it properly three times in a row.

She has failed to use the power of her position to protect Jews on campus from odious antisemitism.

Gay’s scholarship in repeated violation of Harvard’s Guide to Using Sources is a matter of public record.

And yet, more than 700 Harvard faculty members chose to wrap her in their collective embrace.

As did former President Obama.

If Gay had any moral compass and loyalty to Harvard, she’d have packed her bags already.

Even if she leaves tomorrow, the same professors and trustees who supported her, in spite of everything, will still be in place.

A new president will only be cosmetic window dressing, belying the fact that nothing has really changed.

Claudine Gay should remain an albatross around Harvard’s neck, for all to see.

Perhaps Gay’s failure to resign will mark the point on the timeline when elite universities continued their steady, inexorable, reputational decline…

And America’s brightest youth and wealthiest individuals awakened from their spell to spend their valuable time and money elsewhere.

About the Author
Neil Gronowetter is CEO of Emerald Tide Financial and a former trial attorney. He also was founder and president of a pro-Israel political action group while he attended Yale University.
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