The University of Pennsylvania faces a significant setback as major donor Ross Stevens withdraws a $100 million grant following a controversial appearance by President Elizabeth Magill in Congress.
Magill, alongside Harvard President Claudine Gay and MIT’s Sally Kornbluth, faced criticism for evading questions regarding the punishment of students advocating for the genocide of Jews during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Stevens expressed his deep concern over Magill’s stance, stating, “I am appalled by her conduct.”
The founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management noted that the university’s “permissive approach” towards those calling for violence against Jewish people contradicted the policies of Stone Ridge, which prohibit harassment and discrimination based on religion.
The $100 million donation, in the form of limited partnership units in Stone Ridge, was initially given in 2017 to aid Wharton, the university’s prestigious business school, in establishing a finance innovation centre.
The backlash intensified following the leaders’ responses during their testimony in the House of Representatives, where they failed to provide a clear yes or no answer to Rep Elise Stefanik’s question about whether calling for the genocide of Jews violated their university’s code of conduct or rules regarding bullying and harassment.
President Magill, in particular, is facing calls for her resignation. In a video released on the university’s website, she apologized for her initial response during the hearing, acknowledging that she should have focused on the undeniable fact that a call for the genocide of Jewish people is a call for severe violence.
Stevens’ letter, however, seems to call for more decisive action, suggesting that Stone Ridge would reconsider its decision “if, and when, there is a new University President in place.” It was reported on Thursday evening that Scott Bok, the chair of Penn’s Board of Trustees, is expected to speak with Magill about resigning in the coming days.
Furthermore, the House Committee on Education & the Workforce announced a formal investigation into Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT over “rampant antisemitism.” Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx expressed deep concerns about their leadership and failure to provide a safe learning environment for Jewish students, indicating a heightened scrutiny of the universities’ handling of the situation.