Billionaire Harvard donor withdraws gifts over president's antisemitic testimony

Billionaire Len Blavatnik has suspended donations to Harvard University in protest at the university’s handling of President Claudine Gay’s recent congressional testimony.

According to Bloomberg News, Blavatnik and his family foundation had already donated more than $270 million to Harvard. He is the second contributor to withdraw in protest after Gay declined to clarify that calling for the annihilation of Jews would violate Harvard’s anti-bullying and harassment policies.

“The problem Harvard has is that all of their revenue sources are strained,” David Bergeron, a retired deputy assistant secretary in the United States Department of Education, told Bloomberg. “Their ability to raise money is clearly strained and their ability to leverage federal programs is potentially at risk.”

Gay is under pressure to resign as anti-Semitism and plagiarism allegations rise.

Billionaire Harvard donor withdraws gifts over president's antisemitic testimony

Another wealthy investor and influential Harvard alum, Bill Ackman, is pressing for Gay to be fired, claiming that her management of antisemitism on campus after the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel has lost the university more than a billion dollars in donations.

Ackman argued in a letter to Harvard’s governing boards of directors published on the social media platform X on Sunday that Gay “has done more damage to the reputation” of the institution than any other individual in its nearly 500-year history, going through a litany of criticisms over her leadership that has contributed to major donors withdrawing significant gifts that are adding up.

Billionaire Harvard donor withdraws gifts over president's antisemitic testimony

“President Gay’s failures have led to billions of dollars of canceled, paused, and withdrawn donations to the university,” Ackman said in a statement. “I am personally aware of more than a billion dollars of terminated donations from a small group of Harvard’s most generous Jewish and non-Jewish alumni.”

He went on to say, “I have been copied and blind copied on numerous letters and emails to the University from alums who have written scathing letters to Gay and/or the Board withdrawing donations.”

Following their testimonies at a House committee hearing on the rise of antisemitism on college campuses, Gay, the University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, and MIT President Dr. Sally Kornbluth all refused to say that calling for the genocide of Jews on their respective campuses violated their rules and amounted to harassment, Ackman, the CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, began calling for their resignations.

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