Wyoming Harvard Grads Glad For President’s Resignation

Two Wyoming legislators who attended Harvard are pleased that the school’s embattled president resigned Tuesday amid controversy over plagiarism and earlier antisemitic comments but say the school has a long way to go.

Leo Wolfson

January 03, 20244 min read

Former Harvard President Claudine Gay, left, and Wyoming Harvard grads Rep. Cyrus Western, above, and Sen. Charlie Scott.
Former Harvard President Claudine Gay, left, and Wyoming Harvard grads Rep. Cyrus Western, above, and Sen. Charlie Scott. (Getty Images; Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Both state Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, and Rep. Cyrus Western, R-Big Horn, are pleased that Harvard president Claudine Gay resigned Tuesday.

Gay resigned after being widely derided for comments she made to Congress that many saw as being antisemitic. During this hearing, Gay said that decisions on consequences for Harvard students urging genocide against Jews would depend on the context. Until Tuesday, Gay had resisted pressure to resign.

She also was criticized for not being responsive enough to the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas attacks on Israel. Many similarly condemned the university for allowing more than 30 student groups at the school to blame Israel for the Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel and its civilians.

Need More Action

Although Scott and Western are glad Gay resigned, they both say it’s only one step in a rash of changes they believe the school needs to make to facilitate better diversity of opinions on campus.

“This is absolutely a step in the right direction, but it will hardly solve the problem,” said Western, who graduated from the Harvard Business School in 2016. “The bigger question is how did we get here in the first place?”

Scott, who received his undergraduate and master degrees from Harvard, believes there’s a larger monolithic agenda pervading the school.

“It’s not a question about far left, but how far left?” Scott said with a chuckle.

Historically, Harvard was seen as a much more of a conservative school than it is today, employing the likes of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and economist Milton Friedman, both who Scott received lectures from. Scott said he thoroughly enjoyed his time at the school and believes it has a long way to go to get back to the way it was when he went to school there in the late 1960s.

More Diversity Of Opinion

According to the Harvard Crimson in 2021, of 236 members of the school’s faculty who responded to a survey question on political leanings, just seven — 3% — identified as “somewhat” or “very conservative,” compared to 183 who identified as “somewhat” or “very liberal.”

Scott said the school needs more diversity of opinion.

“I want kids exposed to everything,” Scott said. “We no longer have that.”

But he also wants the institution to employ higher standards for addressing antisemitism.

Western believes that only when the school addresses what has brought it to the place it stands today can progress be made.

“Only once we answer that question can we start to undo the damage and chart a course that truly respects freedom of expression, academic integrity, and respect opinions of many varieties,” he said.

Other Issues

Gay also was criticized for allegations she plagiarized her 1997 doctoral dissertation. A Harvard investigation into the matter determined there was no research misconduct besides a few instances of “inadequate citation.”

The school accepted her resignation Tuesday and indicated it was the right move.

“Her own message conveying her intention to step down eloquently underscores what those who have worked with her have long known — her commitment to the institution and its mission is deep and selfless,” Harvard said in a Tuesday statement. “It is with that overarching consideration in mind that we have accepted her resignation.”

Some who have risen to Gay’s defense expressed concern that her resignation was manipulated and assisted by forces outside the school such as conservative media outlets and conservative activists.

In her letter announcing her resignation, Gay was less than amicable, saying the campaign against her had been driven by “racial animus.” She was the first Black president and second female president of the school.

“It has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigor — two bedrock values that are fundamental to who I am,” she wrote.

Gay’s resignation has also placed more scrutiny on the secretive corporation at Harvard that was responsible for hiring her.

Scott said diversity standards should be thrown out at the school, and that all hiring should be solely based on qualifications and knowledge.

“We need to stop thinking about promoting people based on race, gender or sexual identity,” he said. “What’s that got to do with whether you know what you’re talking about?”

Leo Wolfson can be reached at leo@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter