Harvard's Claudine Gay resignation shows 'final corruption of most elite institutions,' says William Bennett Disgrace caused by culture that favors leftist orthodoxy over merit, say William Bennett and Victor Davis Hanson


Harvard University President Claudine Gay resigned on Tuesday — marking a cataclysmic failure of the leftist orthodoxy that has consumed higher education in recent decades, said two leading academics. 

"What we see here is an example of the final corruption of our most elite institutions," former U.S. Department of Education Secretary William Bennett told Fox News Digital.

The damage to America's oldest, and long its most prestigious university could have ripple effects on wider society, Bennett also indicated.

"The American people do not need more discouragement toward the institutions they once looked up to," he said. 

Bennett studied at Harvard Law School and taught at the university — but he is now pessimistic about the institution's ability to refurbish its reputation. 

Bill Bennett

William Bennett, former education secretary, believes the Claudine Gay scandal at Harvard University could have a damaging ripple effect on wider American society, he told Fox News Digital on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

"Can Harvard recover? Yes. Will it recover? No. These problems are too ingrained," he said.

Gay was hired in 2022 amid great fanfare as the first Black woman to serve as Harvard president. Yet her resume fell far short of the traditional accomplishments of the position, critics assert.

The Ivy League school's newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, indicated that Gay's resignation would bring an end to the shortest Harvard presidency in the university's history. 

"Can Harvard recover? Yes. Will it recover? No. These problems are too ingrained." — William Bennett to Fox News Digital

"We once expected the president of Harvard to be the leading academic in the nation," Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, told Fox News Digital in an interview last week before Gay resigned. 

Hanson posted on X on Tuesday, following the announcement, "To paraphrase Churchill, Harvard had an initial choice between a scandal and dishonor. It chose dishonor and now it will have scandal."

Harvard President Claudine Gay

Claudine Gay testified before Congress in December 2023 over antisemitism on the college campus — which she refused to condemn.  (Getty Images)

Bennett agreed that the president of Harvard "used to be the most respected position in the country."

Gay became the focus of nationwide controversy in December when she refused to condemn antisemitism on the Harvard campus when she was questioned before Congress. 

"This is a shame," said Bennett. "She equivocated on a question that had a clear answer and then we found nearly 50 cases of plagiarism."

In the spotlight that followed, it was revealed that Gay had a limited record of academic achievement and had been hired despite publishing papers that were liberally copied from the work of others.

Teddy Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt was told, "I will get you the president," when trying to reach Harvard's top officer Charles Eliot, in a story relayed by William Bennett that speaks to the prestige once enjoyed by the university.  (Getty Images)

Bennett relayed an anecdote speaking to the power and prestige once enjoyed by the position. 

"There is a story that President [Theodore] Roosevelt would call Harvard when he wanted to speak to Charles Eliot," the school's president, said Bennett. 

"The secretary would answer the phone and say ‘Hold on, Mr. Roosevelt. I will get you the president.’"

"We once expected the president of Harvard to be the leading academic in the nation." — Victor Davis Hanson to Fox News Digital

The secretary was reminding the commander-in-chief of the United States, Bennett said, of just "who he was asking for."

In the case of Gay, Harvard initially defended her even as charges of plagiarism mounted — euphemistically referring to her actions as "duplicative language." In Dr. Gay’s 1997 doctoral dissertation, Harvard said it found two examples of "duplicative language without appropriate attribution," as Fox News Digital earlier reported.

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson on Fox News. "She was an affirmative action hire," he said of Claudine Gay, who just resigned as president of Harvard University.  (Fox News)

‘Affirmative action hire’ 

Both Bennett and Hanson said that Gay was hired based upon "diversity, equity and including" (DEI) considerations that today have replaced meritocracy in education and elsewhere in society. 

"She was an affirmative action hire," Hanson said last week. "We’ve lost the tradition that in America anybody of any class, any race or any ideology will be judged in the marketplace of ideas for their performance."

He added on Tuesday on X, "If Harvard appoints as its permanent president another candidate based on DEI without a record of substantial scholarship, intellectual probity, recognized teaching, and administrative excellence, then the university will only reinforce the now growing consensus that it has abandoned even the veneer of meritocracy."

Bennett blamed Gay's hire on "the crazy race consciousness of the university now. Special consideration is given to race both in the admission process and in hiring, and even in putting in their presiding officer."

Harvard protest trucks

Protest trucks demanding that Claudine Gay be fired from Harvard were circling the Ivy League campus recently.  (Fox News Digital)

"We’re not getting people based on merit anymore, and it’s permeating all of society," said Bennett.


It appears the Harvard University board has continued to focus on race, even in accepting Gay's resignation.

"The question I always get asked by parents is ‘Is Harvard worth it?' The answer is no, I don’t think it is anymore." — William Bennett

"While some of this has played out in the public domain, much of it has taken the form of repugnant and in some cases racist vitriol directed at her through disgraceful emails and phone calls," the board statement read, in part. 

Claudine Gay and William Bennett

Claudine Gay, left, resigned as president of Harvard University on Tuesday, Jan. 2, in the wake of controversies that sullied the reputation of America's oldest and one of its most prestigious university. Former U.S. Department of Education Secretary William Bennett, right, told Fox News Digital it was "an example of the final corruption of our most elite institutions." (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images; Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Bennett said he’s "greatly disappointed and embarrassed by what [Harvard has] become. It’s not the Harvard that I went to." 

He added, "The question I always get asked by parents is, ‘Is Harvard worth it?' The answer is no, I don’t think it is anymore. The luster Harvard once enjoyed is now coming off."

In a letter to members of the Harvard community, Gay said she was stepping down as president — but that she would return to the Harvard faculty despite the plagiarism allegations against her. 

 Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who has been calling for Harvard University President Claudine Gay to resign following the president’s congressional testimony about antisemitism, took a victory lap on Tuesday after Gay stepped down.

Stefanik’s questioning of Gay and other university leaders during the Capitol Hill hearing went viral, sparking outrage about how the campus presidents were handling the spike of antisemitism amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Following the news broke that Gay resigned, Stefanik posted on social media, “TWO DOWN,” which is a nod to the two presidents who have quit since that congressional hearing: Gay and the former leader of the University of Pennsylvania, Liz Magill.

Stefanik, a Republican from New York, called Gay’s resignation “long overdue.”

“Claudine Gay’s morally bankrupt answers to my questions made history as the most viewed Congressional testimony in the history of the U.S. Congress,” Stefanik posted. “Her answers were absolutely pathetic and devoid of the moral leadership and academic integrity required of the President of @Harvard.

“This is just the beginning of what will be the greatest scandal of any college or university in history,” the congresswoman added. “Our robust Congressional investigation will continue to move forward to expose the rot in our most ‘prestigious’ higher education institutions and deliver accountability to the American people.”

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy posted “good riddance” after Gay resigned.

“… better late than never,” he added.

Billionaire Bill Ackman has been pushing for weeks for Gay to resign. On Tuesday, he set his sights on MIT President Sally Kornbluth, the third university leader who testified in front of Congress.

“Et tu Sally?” Ackman posted.

Others were upset about Gay resigning after facing intense pressure from Republicans.

“Claudine Gay is bullied out of her job as the first black president of Harvard smh,” posted Jaime Sánchez, Jr., a political historian and a junior fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard.

“What happened to Claudine Gay is a playbook they will follow again and again,” posted journalist and political analyst Natasha S. Alford. “They will do whatever it takes to undermine, humiliate, and unseat Black people in positions of power they don’t want there.”

Billionaire Harvard graduate Bill Ackman wasted no time in issuing a public reaction to Harvard President Claudine Gay tendering her resignation on Tuesday, delivering a three-word response to the news that indicates he will not let up on another target in his sights.

Ackman has led calls for Gay, the University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, and MIT President Sally Kornbluth to "resign in disgrace" ever since their disastrous appearances at a House committee hearing on the rise of antisemitism on college campuses last month when all three refused to say that calling for the genocide of Jews on their respective campuses breached their rules and amounted to harassment.

Bill Ackman

Bill Ackman, CEO at Pershing Square Capital Management, speaks at a conference in Las Vegas in 2017. He led calls for the presidents of Harvard, Penn and MIT to resign following their testimony at a House antisemitism hearing last month. (Richard Brian  / Reuters)

Magill resigned days after her testimony. Now with Gay out, Ackman signaled it is time for the only one of the three presidents remaining in leadership at the premiere educational institutions to step down: MIT's Sally Kornbluth.

Ackman tweeted Tuesday, "Et tu Sally?"

"Et tu" means "Also you," in Latin. Ackman's post is a nod to the famous quote from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" play, when Caesar reacts to being stabbed by a group of assassins that includes his good friend, Brutus, by saying, "Et tu, Brute?" before dying.

Ackman wasn't alone in his sentiment.

A collage of Dr. Claudine Gay of Harvard, Liz Magill of UPenn, billionaire Bill Ackman, and Dr. Sally Kornbluth.

From left, Claudine Gay of Harvard, Liz Magill of Penn, billionaire Bill Ackman and Sally Kornbluth of MIT (  / Getty Images)

Fellow Harvard alum Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., whose line of questioning at the House hearing exposed the schools' policies toward handling antisemitism, also took to X following Gay's resignation and posted, "TWO DOWN."

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy issued a similar reaction, posting, "See ya Claudine Gay. 2 down. MIT on the clock."

An MIT spokesperson told FOX Business the school has no comment on Ackman and others re-upping calls for Kornbluth to resign, saying, "Our leadership remains focused on ensuring the work of MIT continues."

In Kornbluth's opening statement during her House testimony on Dec. 5, she said, "As an American, as a Jew, and as a human being, I abhor antisemitism, and my administration is combatting it actively. Since October 7th, my campus communications have been crystal clear about the dangers of antisemitism and about the atrocity of the Hamas terror attack."

MIT Corporation Chair Mark Gorenberg issued a letter two days later saying the governing body's executive committee members "entirely support" Kornbluth.

https://youtu.be/sWHTRN0bz6I https://youtu.be/vkmnFbCwP6k

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