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Harvard board stands by embattled President Claudine Gay, admits ‘inadequate citation’ in some writings

Harvard University’s highest governing body is standing by embattled president Dr. Claudine Gay while admitting it found "inadequate citation" examples in past writings.

Harvard University’s highest governing body is standing by embattled president Dr. Claudine Gay following intense backlash to controversial comments about antisemitism and accusations of plagiarism, although it admitted a probe found "instances of inadequate citation" in her academic writings. 

"As members of the Harvard Corporation, we today reaffirm our support for President Gay’s continued leadership of Harvard University. Our extensive deliberations affirm our confidence that President Gay is the right leader to help our community heal and to address the very serious societal issues we are facing," Harvard Corporation wrote in a statement posted Tuesday morning

"So many people have suffered tremendous damage and pain because of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack, and the University’s initial statement should have been an immediate, direct, and unequivocal condemnation," the statement continued. "Calls for genocide are despicable and contrary to fundamental human values. President Gay has apologized for how she handled her congressional testimony and has committed to redoubling the University’s fight against antisemitism." 

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During congressional testimony last week, Gay was repeatedly asked if calling for the genocide of Jews was against Harvard policy. She didn't give a clear answer. 

Following intense backlash, she issued a statement clarifying that the university has a staunch position against calls for violence against the Jewish community.

But the controversial testimony at the House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing isn’t the only thing keeping Gay in the spotlight, and reports about her academic writings were also addressed in the Harvard statement. 

"With regard to President Gay’s academic writings, the University became aware in late October of allegations regarding three articles. At President Gay’s request, the Fellows promptly initiated an independent review by distinguished political scientists and conducted a review of her published work. On December 9, the Fellows reviewed the results, which revealed a few instances of inadequate citation. While the analysis found no violation of Harvard’s standards for research misconduct, President Gay is proactively requesting four corrections in two articles to insert citations and quotation marks that were omitted from the original publications," the statement said. 

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"In this tumultuous and difficult time, we unanimously stand in support of President Gay. At Harvard, we champion open discourse and academic freedom, and we are united in our strong belief that calls for violence against our students and disruptions of the classroom experience will not be tolerated," the statement concluded. "Harvard’s mission is advancing knowledge, research, and discovery that will help address deep societal issues and promote constructive discourse, and we are confident that President Gay will lead Harvard forward toward accomplishing this vital work."

The statement was signed by The Fellows of Harvard College: Penny Pritzker, Timothy R. Barakett, Kenneth I. Chenault, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Paul J. Finnegan, Biddy Martin, Karen Gordon Mills, Diana L. Nelso, Tracy P. Palandjian, Shirley M. Tilghman, and Theodore V. Wells, Jr.

The Washington Free Beacon reported Monday that in four papers published between 1993 and 2017, including her doctoral dissertation, Gay "paraphrased or quoted nearly 20 authors—including two of her colleagues in Harvard University’s department of government—without proper attribution," according to an analysis by the investigative news site.

The Free Beacon reported it worked with scholars to analyze "29 potential cases of plagiarism," and most believed Gay, a political scientist, had violated Harvard’s own policies against plagiarism by simply changing a few words at times without proper citation.

"In her 1997 thesis, for example, she borrowed a full paragraph from a paper by the scholars Bradley Palmquist, then a political science professor at Harvard, and Stephen Voss, one of Gay’s classmates in her Ph.D. program at Harvard, while making only a couple alterations, including changing their ’decrease’ to ‘increase’ because she was studying a different set of data," the Free Beacon’s Aaron Sibarium wrote.

The Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo and journalist Christopher Brunet also published instances of what they said were problematic sections of her Ph.D. dissertation that "violate Harvard’s own stated policies on academic integrity."

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Their reporting included Gay using almost verbatim material from scholarly papers without quotation marks.

"Though Gay does provide a reference to the original authors, she uses their verbatim language, with a few trivial synonym substitutions, without providing quotation marks," they wrote. "This constitutes a clear violation of Harvard’s policy, which states: ‘When you paraphrase, your task is to distill the source’s ideas in your own words. It’s not enough to change a few words here and there and leave the rest; instead, you must completely restate the ideas in the passage in your own words. If your own language is too close to the original, then you are plagiarizing, even if you do provide a citation.’"

She also appeared, Rufo and Brunet wrote, to lift material from scholar Carol Swain without "citation of any kind." Swain, who has become a rare conservative voice in academia after previously being a Democrat, told Rufo in a separate interview that she thought Gay would already have been terminated from her position if she were a White male.

"What is bothering me is not just that there’s passages she didn’t put in quotation marks. When I look at her work, I feel like her whole research agenda, her whole career, was based on my work. It bothers me because I know that my work was a big deal in the early 1990s. And I started falling out of favor in 1995 when I started criticizing race-based affirmative action," Swain said.

Among those displeased with the Harvard Corporation’s backing of Gay was Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., whose viral questioning of her and other elite college presidents about antisemitism last week generated a firestorm.

"There have been absolutely no updates to Harvard’s code of conduct to condemn the calls for genocide and protect Jewish students on campus," Stefanik wrote on X. "The only update to Harvard’s code of conduct is to allow plagiarists as president."

Fox News’ Landon Mion contributed to this report. 

This is a developing story, more to come… 

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