Penn’s president resigns after testimony about antisemitism; trustees chair also quits

PHILADELPHIA — University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill announced her resignation on Saturday, less than a week after appeared at a congressional hearing and appeared to dodge the question of whether students who sought the genocide of Jews should face disciplinary action.

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Her resignation came after mounting bipartisan backlash against her testimony before Congress, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Board of trustees chairman also resigns

Update 5:45 p.m. EST Dec. 9: Scott Bok, chair of the board of trustees at the University of Pennsylvania, is also resigning from his position, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“Today, following the resignation of the University of Pennsylvania’s President and related Board of Trustee meetings, I submitted my resignation as Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, effective immediately,” Bok said in an email Saturday, released about an hour after Magill’s resignation.

Original report: The announcement was made in an email sent to the Penn community from Scott Bok, the chairman of the board of trustees, according to The New York Times. Bok also submitted his resignation, the Inquirer reported.

“It has been my privilege to serve as President of this remarkable institution,” Magill, 57, wrote in a statement. “It has been an honor to work with our faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members to advance Penn’s vital missions.”

Magill, 57, will remain a tenured faculty member at Penn Carey Law, according to the email, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported.

“We will be in touch in the coming days to share plans for interim leadership of Penn,” Bok wrote in the announcement. “President Magill has agreed to stay on until an interim president is appointed.”

She is the first president of a major university to leave office after the protests that have been held on college campuses since Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, the newspaper reported.

Magill, who has been the university’s president for less than two years, testified on Tuesday before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Inquirer reported.

When asked several times if calling for the genocide of Jewish people violates Penn’s rules or code of conduct, Magill, a legal scholar and former University of Virginia provost, told Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., “It is a context-dependent decision.”

“That’s your testimony today?” Stefanik asked. “Calling for the genocide of Jews is depending upon the context?”

Magill’s answer ignited a wave of criticism from Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman, the Times reported.

She apologized Wednesday for her testimony.

“In that moment, I was focused on our university’s longstanding policies aligned with the U.S. Constitution, which say that speech alone is not punishable,” Magill said in a video. “I was not focused on, but 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 -- plain and simple.

“In my view, it would be harassment or intimidation.”

The resignation came after an investigation launched by the Congressional committee into Penn’s policies, the Inquirer reported.

The committee is also investigating Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to the newspaper. Those university presidents also testified on Tuesday.

A former U.S. Supreme Court law clerk, Magill is the daughter of a retired federal judge and was dean of Stanford University’s law school, The Associated Press reported.

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