UPenn’s Wharton board attempts to increase pressure on Magill to resign: report

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school’s board sent a letter to the board of trustees on Friday, which comes after sending a letter to embattled university President Liz Magill on Thursday calling for her to resign, according to a report.

The letter, obtained by Axios, argues that five trustees can call for a special meeting to vote for the removal of Magill, who has come under fire after her congressional testimony on antisemitism amid the Israel-Hamas war. Five people on Wharton’s board also serve as trustees.

“The Board will, of course, vote based upon each member’s beliefs and only the Board of Trustees, as the University’s fiduciaries, can determine the actions that are in the best interests of the University. However, University inaction cloaked in statements of intent and informational meetings has fostered the current climate of fear on campus and has resulted in Government inquiries, Title VI litigation, and declarations by numerous media outlets that our beloved university is ground zero for antisemitism on college campuses,” the letter from Wharton’s board states.

A Sunday meeting is scheduled for the UPenn Board of Trustees, and comes after it held an emergency meeting on Thursday. The meeting was previously scheduled, but Board of Trustees Chair Scott Bok extended the length from one to two hours.

UPENN BOARD MEMBERS TELL PRESIDENT TO ‘RESIGN’ IF SHE CAN’T PERFORM ROLE EFFECTIVELY: REPORT

Liz Magill, president of the University of Pennsylvania, attends a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Lawmakers on the education committee grilled Magill and the leaders of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology about their responses to pro-Palestinian protests and rising antisemitism on their respective campuses that erupted in wake of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas. (Haiyun Jiang/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Following the meeting, somewhere between six and eight members of the board of trustees called on Magill to think “long and hard” over whether she can effectively function as president of the university.

“If the answer is you can’t [function], we need to know that, and you ought to resign,” the trustees told Magill, according to the outlet’s source.

The trustees fell short of explicitly calling for Magill to resign.

Backlash continues to pour in following Tuesday’s Congressional hearing after Magill gave a non-answer to New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik’s question asking if “calling for the genocide of Jews violate[s] Penn’s rules or code of conduct? Yes or no?”

74 HOUSE MEMBERS ISSUE LETTER CALLING ON MIT, HARVARD, UPENN BOARDS TO ‘IMMEDIATELY REMOVE’ PRESIDENTS

UPenn president during House hearing

University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill testifies before the House Education and Workforce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building during a hearing to investigate antisemitism on college campuses. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment, yes,” Magill responded, later adding, “It is a context-dependent decision.”

“This is unacceptable. Ms. Magill, I’m gonna give you one more opportunity for the world to see your answer. Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s code of conduct when it comes to bullying and harassment? Yes or no?” Stefanik then asked.

university presidents before hearing

Harvard President Claudine Gay, left, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) President Sally Kornbluth listen during a hearing of the House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, in Washington, D.C.  (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

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Magill would later walk back her comments in a video posted to X on Wednesday evening.

“There was a moment during yesterday’s congressional hearing on antisemitism when I was asked if a call for the genocide of Jewish people on our campus would violate our policies. In that moment, I was focused on our university’s long-standing policies aligned with the U.S. Constitution, which says that speech alone is not punishable,” Magill said. “I was not focused on, but I should have been, on the irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate.”

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