University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill’s grip on the top job appeared to be in jeopardy as the Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting Thursday amid escalating pressure to change the Ivy League college’s leadership.
Ms. Magill remained in office after the trustees met Thursday morning, according to multiple media outlets, as calls rose for her to resign following the backlash over her testimony before a House committee hearing on campus antisemitism.
Those calls now include the Wharton Board of Advisors, the influential panel chaired by Apollo Global Management CEO Marc Rowan, which said in a letter to Ms. Magill that the university “requires new 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,” the board of advisors said in the letter, which was obtained by CNN and the Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper.
A Penn spokesperson told the Daily Pennsylvanian after the trustees meeting that “there is no board plan for imminent leadership change.”
Ms. Magill and other college presidents were asked during Tuesday’s hearing of the House Education and the Workforce Committee by Rep. Elise Stefanik, New York Republican, if calling for the “genocide of Jews” violates their schools’ codes of conduct.
Ms. Magill said that it was “a context-dependent decision,” explaining that “if the speech becomes conduct, it can be harassment.”
She responded to the ensuing criticism in a Wednesday video message, saying that “I was asked if the call for the genocide of Jewish people on our campus would violate our policies.”
“In that moment, I was focused on our university’s longstanding polices, aligned with the U.S. Constitution, which say that speech alone is not punishable,” she said. “I was not focused on what I should have been: the irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate. It’s evil, pure and simple.”
Her backpedaling failed to assuage critics.
Students held a protest outside the president’s office Thursday, while Ross Stevens, founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, said he would withdraw a $100 million donation.
DEVELOPING: The Wharton Board of Advisors is calling on the University to change leadership with “immediate effect,” according to a letter to Penn President Liz Magill first obtained by The Daily Pennsylvanian.https://t.co/ePTrfD0FpY
— The Daily Pennsylvanian (@dailypenn) December 7, 2023
Mr. Rowan launched a donor revolt in October, urging Penn funders to “close their checkbooks” until Ms. Magill resigns, citing the university’s response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israeli civilians and the “antisemitic rot in academia.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, a non-voting member of the board of trustees, said at a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony Thursday at Penn Hillel that “this is a moment where leaders need to speak and act with moral clarity.”
“The board here at Penn needs to determine whether or not those comments reflect the views and values of the board and of the university, and I’ve urged them to meet and meet soon and deliberate on that question,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“I know they had a brief meeting this morning and I expect they’ll be meeting again in the coming days. I expect them to carefully weigh that question,” Mr. Shapiro said.
Meanwhile, six Republican congressmen from Pennsylvania led by Chief Deputy Whip Guy Reschenthal called Thursday for the Board of Trustees to remove Ms. Magill, saying she is “incapable or unwilling to combat antisemitism on the university‘s campus and take care of its student body.”
The Washington Times has reached out to Penn for comment.