Even casual observers of the Harvard University leadership debacle this past month have been mortified by the startling series of events leading up to yesterday’s resignation of its president, Claudine Gay.
Gay, who only became president on July 1 of this year, will be replaced by Harvard Provost Alan Garber, who has agreed to serve as interim president until a permanent replacement is installed.
The firestorm erupted back on December 5 when the now former Ivy League head, testifying before a congressional committee, initially refused to denounce the genocide of Jewish people. Shockingly, administration and students stood by her, but it seems her fate was sealed after dozens of plagiarism charges surfaced the last few weeks.
Writing to members of the Harvard community, Gay acknowledged that “after consultation with members of the Corporation, it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual.”
Yet in a sign that neither Gay nor Harvard leadership seems to understand just how damaging her ideology or behavior has been to the institution’s credibility and reputation, the now former president will remain at the school as a member of the faculty.
The deterioration of Harvard hasn’t come overnight, nor is it a surprise to anyone who has followed the school over the years. Back in June, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Harvard’s and the University of North Carolina’s race-conscious admissions policy, an effort the New England school spent over $40 million defending.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts noted, “The Harvard and U.N.C. admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the equal protection clause. Both programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping and lack meaningful end points.”
Yet, Harvard’s slide is even more acute and disappointing when you consider the school’s origins and its namesake, Puritan minister John Harvard.
Born in London, John Harvard was a devout believer in Jesus Christ. Arriving in New England, he became assistant pastor of the First Church of Charleston. He was invited to help draft the territory’s “Body of Liberties’ – the area’s first legal code.
Tragically, John soon contracted tuberculosis and his health quickly deteriorated. He died in 1638. He was just 31 years old. Thanks to a family inheritance from land in Europe, John gifted his sizable estate (both books and money) to an upstart university in New Towne – the school that would eventually be named after him.
Of course, Harvard’s original students would barely recognize the current school. Back in 1646, the colleges “Rules and Precepts” included these directives:
Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, Let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him (Proverbs 2:3).
In 1650, the school’s motto left no question about leadership’s spiritual convictions:
In Christi Gloriam – For the glory of Christ.
By 1692, the school’s spiritual foundations had only grown stronger, boasting the following motto:
Veritas, Christo et ecclesiae – Truth, for Christ and the Church.
Of course, some Christians still attend and even teach at Harvard, but those who warn about the slide and dangers of an untended and untamed culture can do no better than point to Harvard’s tragic tumble from a thriving seminary to a moral cesspool.
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