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claudine gay 372nd Commencement at Harvard University

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Claudine GayHarvard University’s first Black president – has resigned. In office for a little over six months, Claudine inspired Black women everywhere as one of the first women of color to rise in the ranks and achieve such a prestigious position.

“It is with a heavy heart but a deep love for Harvard that I write to share that I will be stepping down as president. This is not a decision I came to easily,” Claudine wrote in a statement to the press.

She continued, “Indeed, it has been difficult beyond words because I have looked forward to working with so many of you to advance the commitment to academic excellence that has propelled this great university across centuries.”

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The daughter of immigrants, Claudine’s selection and inauguration gained national attention. She took the helm of the 400-year-old institution in July 2023 and was inaugurated in September of the same year.

Claudine recently became the subject of multiple controversies surrounding her testimony before Congress on antisemitism. Some critics called for her removal after her Congressional testimony in late 2023, but the school stood behind her

Recent accusations of plagiarism have also surfaced regarding Claudine, with some as current as this week. Though 30th president did not state her reason for leaving, the timing led many to point to plagiarism as the “last draw.”

According to a university press release, Claudine will return to the school’s Government Studies faculty. She was the first Black person – and second woman – to hold the prestigious office.

Claudine Gay’s tenure was ‘a moment.’

Harvard President Claudine Gay attends Hanukkah lighting in Harvard Yard

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Claudine’s role as president is historic and significant because of what – and who – she represents. Her tenure was a moment.

While president, Claudine was one of few Black women who have ever served as leaders of Ivy League institutions or any major college or university. With most positions historically held by White men, the exclusive club of Black women who have achieved this honor is extremely small.

Claudine – and other women who have fought and worked to ascend to this level – deserve their flowers. There is no easy path to becoming a university president.

Adding to this difficulty is arduous hiring and search processes, multiple requirements needed for the role, and levels of discrimination, classicism, and racism still permeating through society. By simply showing up, Claudine proved that Black women continue to shatter glass ceilings and lead by example despite adversity in every single way.

Claudine wrote to the Harvard community, “When I became president, I considered myself particularly blessed by the opportunity to serve people from around the world who saw in my presidency a vision of Harvard that affirmed their sense of belonging—their sense that Harvard welcomes people of talent and promise, from every background imaginable, to learn from and grow with one another.”

She continued saying, “When my brief presidency is remembered I hope it will be seen as a moment of reawakening to the importance of striving to find our common humanity.”


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