Embattled Harvard president will submit dissertation edits after plagiarism allegations

January 3, 2024 - 12:53 PM
Incoming President of Harvard University and current Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay listens during Harvard University’s 372nd Commencement Exercises in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 25, 2023. (Reuters/Brian Snyder/File Photo)

Harvard University’s president was planning to submit three corrections to her 1997 dissertation after a committee investigating plagiarism allegations against her found that she had made citation errors, a university spokesperson said.

Claudine Gay, who was inaugurated as Harvard‘s president in September, has already submitted corrections to two published articles in recent weeks that were the focus of a review by the Harvard Corporation, the university’s governing board.

Questions about Gay’s academic integrity have rocked her already tumultuous first semester as the university’s first Black president, as she faced a pressure campaign to resign over her congressional testimony about antisemitism on campus earlier this month.

The plagiarism allegations against Gay were brought to the attention of the Harvard Corporation on Oct. 24 through a media request by the New York Post newspaper, the university spokesperson said.

Investigators, including a subcommittee of the 11-member Corporation and a panel of independent political scientists, found that Gay’s work had “a few instances of inadequate citation” upon initial review but that her work fell short of research misconduct, the Corporation said in a statement on Dec. 12.

Subsequent allegations concerning Gay’s 1997 Harvard Ph.D. dissertation led to an additional review, the university spokesperson said on Wednesday, in which investigators found “duplicative language without appropriate attribution.”

Gay will submit three citation corrections for her dissertation to the university’s Office of the Provost, the spokesperson said.

Gay has faced intense pressure from Harvard donors and the Jewish community to resign after her testimony at a congressional hearing on Dec. 5, where she declined to say outright that calling for the genocide of Jews on Harvard‘s campus would violate the school’s code of conduct.

Gay and the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Institute of Technology were called to testify as protests over the Israel-Hamas war have roiled theirs and other U.S. colleges’ campuses.

Gay later apologized for her remarks in an interview with the Harvard Crimson.

The University of Pennsylvania’s president, Liz Magill, resigned on Dec. 9.

— Reporting by Gabriella Borter; editing by Donna Bryson and Jonathan Oatis