The University of Pennsylvania stood by its president and chair of the board of trustees, rebuffing calls for their resignation by major donors including Apollo Global Management Inc.’s Marc Rowan, who accused them of tolerating antisemitism.
(Bloomberg) — The University of Pennsylvania stood by its president and chair of the board of trustees, rebuffing calls for their resignation by major donors including Apollo Global Management Inc.’s Marc Rowan, who accused them of tolerating antisemitism.
“The university has publicly committed to unprecedented steps to further combat antisemitism on its campus, reaffirmed deep support for our Jewish community, and condemned the devastating and barbaric attacks on Israel by Hamas,” Vice Chair Julie Platt said in an emailed statement Thursday.
The board’s executive committee “unanimously endorsed the actions taken by the university,” Platt said. She expressed “full confidence” in Penn’s president, Elizabeth Magill, and board chair Scott Bok.
Accusations of antisemitism roiled Penn as the university hosted the Palestine Writes Literature Festival last month, weeks before the Hamas attacks. Rowan, who’s also chairman of the board of advisors of Penn’s Wharton business school, said it featured “well known antisemites and fomenters of hate and racism” and accused Magill of failing to condemn the rhetoric from the event.
“I call on all UPenn alumni and supporters who believe we are heading in the wrong direction to ‘Close their Checkbooks’ until” Magill and Bok step down, Rowan wrote in a letter earlier this week.
Another prominent donor also weighed in. Dick Wolf, creator of the Law & Order franchise and namesake of Penn’s Wolf Humanities Center, said Magill and Bok’s leadership has “inadequately represented the ideals and values of our university and they should be held to account.”
Rowan, who along with his wife Carolyn donated $50 million to Wharton in 2018, told CNBC on Thursday that he was “strongly encouraged” to reconsider his chairmanship of Wharton, but rejected that advice.
Bok, chairman and chief executive officer of investment bank Greenhill & Co., said in an emailed statement that it was “a falsehood for him to say that the University sought to ‘purge’ dissenting Trustees from the board in relation to the festival.”
He noted in the statement that the board did make it known to two trustees they could consider voluntarily resigning if they wanted to be freed from the constraints of sitting on a board, which includes not publicly opposing decisions.
On Sept. 12, the Philadelphia-based university had addressed the controversy over the festival, saying “we unequivocally — and emphatically — condemn antisemitism as antithetical to our institutional values. As a university, we also fiercely support the free exchange of ideas as central to our educational mission. This includes the expression of views that are controversial and even those that are incompatible with our institutional values.”
–With assistance from Brandon Sapienza.
(Updates with Bok comment in eighth paragraph.)
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