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NY Post
New York Post
24 Feb 2024

NextImg:Claudine Gay beat ‘far more’ qualified candidates for Harvard job: report

The Harvard presidential search team did not conduct a thorough review of embattled Claudine Gay’s scholarship before they handed her the plum role — which resulted in her beating out candidates with “far more extensive” academic work under their belts.

When Gay, 54, was announced as Harvard’s next president in December 2022, she edged out favorites Tomiko Brown-Nagin and John F. Manning, the Harvard Crimson reported.

Brown-Nagin is the dean of the University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and has published several books, The Crimson noted.

Claudine Gay was appointed president of Harvard in December 2022. Harvard University/AFP via Getty Images
Tomiko Brown-Nagin was another favorite for the Harvard presidency, insiders said. Harvard Law School

Last year, she was awarded the prestigious Order of the Coif book award for her 2022 publication, “Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality.”

Manning is dean of Harvard Law School, has argued nine cases before the US Supreme Court, and has written more than 40 legal papers, the campus publication explained.

Gay, meanwhile, was an accomplished political scientist who had served for three years as the Social Sciences divisional dean, in addition to five years helming the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, but her scholastic record was comparatively small.

She became the top choice for Harvard’s 30th presidency after a five-month search – the shortest presidential search for the university in more than 70 years, The Crimson noted.

In that time, the 15-person committee trimmed a pool of 600 candidates to 50, before cutting the number to 12 candidates.

A history of exceptional scholarship as well as administrative chops were key qualities that the committee and Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Penny S. Pritzker prized during the process.

Harvard is under fire for not reviewing Gay’s academic work before selecting her. Getty Images

“It is just too complicated a job for someone who has never had to deal with something as complicated as the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, so that eliminated some of the candidates who may have been extraordinary scholars, but really did not have the kind of depth of experience,” former Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman, a member of the Harvard Corporation, told The Crimson after Gay’s selection in December 2022.

But high-powered universities like Harvard do not do extensive reviews or plagiarism checks on the scholarly work of serious candidates, a person who served on leadership search committees at comparable institutions told The Crimson.

Instead, Harvard relied on the conclusions of previous committees and tenure reviews.

Thomas Manning is the dean of Harvard Law School.

According to a person familiar with the presidential search process, Gay’s experience as a senior administrator also led the Harvard Corporation – the university’s highest governing body – not to complete a more extensive review of her work before appointing her.

Gay’s academic work ultimately came under fire in December 2023, when allegations of plagiarism led her to make a total of seven corrections in two articles and her doctoral dissertation.

The Harvard Corporation initially supported Gay, who was also under scrutiny for her response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel.

But the repeated criticism eventually led the Corporation and Pritzker to lose faith in their own appointee.

Claudine Gay resigned from the presidency last month. AP

Gay finally resigned on Jan. 2, not long after a disastrous appearance before Congress about anti-semitism on college campuses.

Her five-month stint as president of the nation’s most prestigious university marked the shortest leadership tenure in the institution’s history. 

The 31st presidential search committee – which has not been formally announced – will include three members of Harvard’s Board of Overseers in addition to the Corporation, The Crimson reported.

Meanwhile, the Corporation and Pritzker remain under serious criticism over their role in the scandals of recent months.

Harvard University did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for a comment on The Crimson’s allegations.