Ackman, a Harvard graduate and significant donor to the university, strongly advocated for Gay’s resignation. Ackman, who is Jewish and married to an Israeli, the celebrity architect Neri Oxman, was angered by Gay’s response to students justifying Hamas attacks.
What worsened the plight of the embattled Harvard President was her evasive testimony on December 5, sparking a strong desire in Ackman to lead a campaign against her. Allegations of plagiarism in her academic work surfaced on December 12, intensifying calls for her resignation, according to Daily Mail.
Sharpton, however, claims she was pushed out due to her race, stating this on Tuesday. “President Gay’s resignation is about more than a person or a single incident. This is an attack on every Black woman in this country who’s put a crack in the glass ceiling,” he said.
He accused the billionaire of launching a relentless campaign against President Gay, which was not based on her leadership or credentials but due to Ackman perceiving her as a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) hire.
Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) plans to protest outside Ackman’s Manhattan office on Thursday. “If he doesn’t think Black Americans belong in the C-Suite, the Ivy League, or any other hallowed halls, we’ll make ourselves at home outside his office,” he explained.
Ackman has been making merry following the resignation of President Gay, marking the second Ivy League president to step down post-disastrous Congressional testimony. Liz Magill of the University of Pennsylvania also resigned on December 9 amid criticism for her legalistic and equivocal responses.
The third president, Sally Kornbluth, remains in her position at MIT amid recent controversies surrounding other university leaders.
One of Bill Ackman’s critics, Yale professor Gregg Gonsalves, accused him of being a negative force in American education and criticized Ackman as a “pernicious influence on American education” and an “odious” person who “thinks his money equals wisdom” and “gives him the right to bully at will.”
Ackman responded to Gonsalves’ comments. “What did I say about @Harvard President Gay that has to do with money?” replied Ackman.
“President Gay resigned because she lost the confidence of the University at large due to her actions and inactions and other failures of leadership.
“Other than elevating concerns about Gay that were held by thousands of Harvard students, faculty, and alumni, what is ‘pernicious’ about my so-called influence on American education?
“Gay resigned because it was untenable for her to remain President of Harvard due to her failings in leadership.”
“Would you want Gay to be president of Yale where you apparently serve on the faculty?”
When one person said Ackman was being “disingenuous” about money, Ackman replied: “How did I use money? I don’t understand. I never threatened to withhold donations etc.
“President Gay’s resignation is not about money. It is about her failures of leadership and questions about her academic record.”