Another big-time donor cuts ties with Harvard over its pussyfooting on the war

October 17, 2023 • 11:30 am

Despite Harvard President Claudine Gay having “clarified”—twice—an earlier weaselly stand on the war sent out by many administrators, it’s still losing donors. (Gay assured Harvard in an email and a video that yes, the University really did oppose the barbaric acts of Hamas in Israel.)  Donor withdrawal hits the school where it hurts.

The latest donor to cut ties with the school was a foundation: the Wexner Foundation, started by two Victoria’s Secret billionaires. But read today’s CNN article for the details (click on headline below):

A precis:

A nonprofit founded by former Victoria’s Secret billionaire Leslie Wexner and his wife Abigail is breaking off ties with Harvard University, alleging the school has been “tiptoeing” over Hamas’ terror attacks against Israel.

The Wexner Foundation’s decision to end its relationship and financial support for Harvard is the latest fallout amid criticism from donors who were alarmed by the university’s initial response to the attacks and to an anti-Israel statement issued by student groups.

The end of Wexner’s support comes as college campuses across the United States are in turmoil over responses from students, professors and administrations to Hamas’ attack on Israel and the ensuing war. Big donors have pulled money from a number of high-profile universities. Students have protested and some have been publicly shamed for their views. A handful of faculty have been lambasted by students and administrations for sharing controversial views. And university leaders are clinging onto diminishing support as some fight for survival.

“We are stunned and sickened by the dismal failure of Harvard’s leadership to take a clear and unequivocal stand against the barbaric murders of innocent Israeli civilians,” the Wexner Foundation’s leaders wrote in a Monday letter to the Harvard board of overseers.

The Wexners, whose fortune is estimated to be $6 billion, according to Forbes, specifically cite the statement released by a coalition of student groups that blamed solely Israel for the terror attacks by Hamas.

, . .“Harvard’s leaders were indeed tiptoeing, equivocating, and we, like former Harvard President Larry Summers cannot ‘fathom the administration’s failure to disassociate the university and condemn the statement’ swiftly issued by 34 student groups holding Israel entirely responsible for the violent terror attack on its own citizens,” the Wexner Foundation letter reads. “That should not have been that hard.”

Summers, a former economic official in the Obama and Clinton administrations, drew attention last week to the “morally unconscionable” student statement and slammed Harvard leaders for their response.

Citing the “absence of this clear moral standard,” the Wexner Foundation said it has determined the Harvard Kennedy School is no longer a “compatible” partner for its organization.

Last week, Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer and his wife Batia quit a Harvard executive board in protest of how university leaders responded to the Hamas terror attack on Israel.

Finally, Wexner faulted Harvard for not promoting viewpoint diversity. It’s guilty as charged! (Bolding is mine.)

The Wexner Foundation says its mission is to develop and inspire leaders in the North American Jewish community and Israel through programs and investments in promising professionals. The foundation has deep ties to Harvard supporting a fellowship program at the Kennedy School of Government that allows government and public service professionals in Israel to study at Harvard for a year.

Beyond Harvard’s response to the terror attacks and anti-Israel letter, the Wexner Foundation cited a broader problem where “tolerance for diverse perspectives has slowly but perceptibly narrowed over the years.”

That feeling was amplified by recent events, the letter said.

“Many of our Israel Fellows no longer feel marginalized at HKS. They feel abandoned,” the Wexner Foundation said.

Money talks, especially to rich colleges like Harvard, though it hardly needs the dosh (its endowment was, in 2021, $53.2 billion).

I wouldn’t give money to Harvard, even though I’m an alumnus, as there are more deserving schools out there (my will earmarks money for medical and food assistance for poor children throughout the world, for buying up land for conserving natural habitat, and for animal welfare—three causes I see as more pressing than enriching my undergrad and grad schools). But if a school to which I donated did weasel about the war, I might consider breaking ties with it.

But I doubt that this will spread since President Gay did issue two statements condemning Hamas, but one wonders if at least part of the motivation for those statements was fear of losing donors.

We all know that the main job of a college president is not managing college affairs (that usually goes to the Provost or a big dean), but raising money.  And not raising money is a sure way to hasten your “resignation.”

I want to add that if Harvard, like Chicago, had a written policy on political neutrality, stuff like this wouldn’t happen, for if you vow not to take explicit political, ideological, or moral stands, you can’t be faulted for not taking them!  So far I haven’t heard of any donors to the University of Chicago cutting ties with us for not damning Hamas.

Here are the Wexners, no longer donors:

(from CNN): Leslie Wexner, right, and his wife Abigail. Photo credit: Jay LaPrete/AP/FILE

h/t: Gregory


10 thoughts on “Another big-time donor cuts ties with Harvard over its pussyfooting on the war

  1. Surely we can look forward to President Gay of Harvard issuing a clarification of her clarification. After the Mohammed picture affair at Hamline College, the administration issued one clarification after another, and to this day it is still busy clarifying.

  2. Maybe more colleges and universities will embrace the Kalven Report after the blow-back. While I would prefer to live in a world where higher education embraces it because it is the right thing to do, rethinking their stance on issuing political position statements for fear of losing money is also a fine path to follow.

  3. I, too, am a Harvard alumnus and I am disgusted by the administration’s behavior. I’m glad to see that principled donors are withdrawing their support.

  4. Let’s not forget that Harvard’s President Gay was instrumental in sabotaging the career of Dr. Roland Fryer for producing factual research on race that contradicted its most precious tenets.

    This twitter thread from writer and journalist Aaron Sibarium:

    “Harvard’s graduate student union is considering a plan to make emergency relief funds available to students who were “doxxed” after signing a statement blaming Israel for Hamas’s terrorist attacks, according to a resolution obtained by the Beacon.”

  5. One more thing….this is absolutely worth listening to:

    “Is Harvard a Critical Social Justice Madrassa? | Peter Boghossian & Rajiv Malhotra
    Peter Boghossian”

  6. I just stay out of it. I’ve lost respect for all involved in some way or another, whether it be a violent gang or politicians pulling strings or playing the long game in the expectation said gang acts up again.

  7. No person can properly live in a group of Nazis — and that is what this is. Targeted defunding is essential. I don’t endorse “Kalven Report” at all — somehow food and poison are “the same”; education in some fake “objectivity” is simply wickedness. The Kalven report, of course, is now in the favor of hard leftism, because most of the administration of Harvard (especially soft “sciences”), is leftist many are radical left (i.e. frank Marxism / Communism) which has been on the rise.

    Education without morality just makes more clever devils … and we are seeing this real time now. Push back, and do so asymmetrically, or watch this world burn.

    The game now: Jews die, Hamas wins. Gazans die. Hamas wins. Because of sick propaganda against Israel.

    The problem is, leftist Jews don’t know who their friends are. Leftism will eventually = Nazism (God, I hope not. But I’ve feared that possibility for decades, as I think the game was to artificially make a division between Communism and Fascism, when carving nature at the joint is power vs freedom which puts Communism and Fascism on the same side — This has been like watching a horror movie in slow motion, and it’s been happening over and over, from Bari Weiss to current events with that terrorist-supporting SJP — look at the headscarves) …

    Leftists have an enormous difficulty identifying real evil (note the “defund the police” nonsense and releasing hardened felons in some sort of garbage attempt at equality). This same wickedness happened in the Soviet Union prior to their “revolution” (self defense was effectively outlawed).

  8. “The Game?” who created this artificial game of which you speak? The nebulous Deep State? Sounds a bit paranoid to me. And at first you describe the Left as Nazis and by the last paragraph they’re Soviets circa 1917 (very different ideologies). Non-sequiturs abound. Just sayin’.

  9. “Very different ideologies” … both totalitarian, both centralized state control, and both with literally hundreds of other essential commonalities.

    Of note, Karl Marx was Jewish, and attempted to avoid making known his Jewish connection (a lot of anti-Semitism then) … And Il Duce reportedly carried a bust of Karl Marx in his pocket (he was also a socialist before becoming fascist). And Nazi — was a German contraction of “National Socialism” (in German), etc., etc. A lot of crossover actually.

    The point is, people seeking power (power vs freedom — the real division) will do anything that gets them more power, and that is the fundamental and essential criteria. It literally has *nothing* to do with whether they are “communist” or “fascist” or any other non-essential garbage. Since they are psychopathic, they will do whatever works to get more power.

    Concentration camps? Night raids? Brutal interrogations? Destruction of independent judiciary? etc. This list is so long, one wonders just why there is any academic focus on their differences and just what the motivation for that is (but I think I know, actually). Totalitarian societies are not, at least for the purposes of this argument, “fundamentally different”. It’s like a focus on the color of the bullet, and ignoring the bullet …

    But either way, just look at the left today. Clearly “Pro-Palestinian” is a euphemism for anti-Jew in such a pronounced number of cases (and I mean, genocidal anti-Jew, in a “final solution” sort of way), that it is undeniable to any observant individual.


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