Former President Barack Obama has allegedly been involved in lobbying on behalf of Harvard President Claudine Gay amidst a series of controversies plaguing the prestigious university, particularly regarding issues related to antisemitism. Reports from Fox News suggest that Obama, an alumnus of Harvard Law School, worked behind the scenes, urging the university leadership to support Gay amid mounting pressure for her resignation due to her handling of antisemitism on campus.
Notably, Obama’s alleged support for Gay reportedly continued post her December 5 testimony before the House Education and Workforce Committee. During this testimony, Gay faced criticism for her refusal to explicitly address whether advocating for the genocide of Jews was permissible on campus, prompting speculation that the former president sought to stabilize the university administration despite controversies.
However, questions have arisen regarding Obama’s continued backing of Gay, particularly following allegations of plagiarism in her Ph.D. dissertation. Despite Gay defending the integrity of her scholarship, recent complaints lodged with Harvard’s Research Integrity Office claim over 40 instances of plagiarism, further complicating her situation.
The Harvard president’s struggles intensified following the university’s inadequate response to the October 7 terrorist attack against Israel, wherein more than 30 student groups signed a pro-terror statement blaming Israel. Harvard’s delayed and ambiguous response drew nationwide criticism, eventually prompting Gay to issue a follow-up statement attempting to distance the university from the students who signed the controversial pro-terror statement.
Adding to the university’s challenges, Harvard was named the worst school for free speech by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) in 2023. Gay, along with other university presidents, faced a Congressional hearing on campus antisemitism that was widely regarded as disastrous. In the aftermath, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned, contributing to the escalating pressure on Gay to step down.
Criticism also emerged over allegations of plagiarism in Gay’s dissertation, with scholar Carol Swain denouncing Gay as “a fraud” and “an embarrassment” who should resign. These issues have brought significant scrutiny to Gay’s leadership and the broader administration of Harvard University, with Obama’s reported involvement further fueling the ongoing debates and controversies surrounding the university’s leadership.