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UPenn loses $100M donation amid calls for president to resign: 'Appalled'

University among 3 others facing House investigation over antisemitism

University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. | Getty Images

A major donor to the University of Pennsylvania pulled a $100 million gift from the school to express his disgust toward President Liz Magill's recent testimony before Congress regarding the school's response to on-campus antisemitism.

Lawyers for Ross Stevens, a Penn alumnus who is founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, fired off a letter to UPenn senior vice president and general counsel Wendy S. White on Thursday, according to Axios.

Stevens and his company "are appalled by the University’s stance on antisemitism on campus," according to the letter. He also cited Magill's recent congressional testimony as a major reason for yanking his funding.

Magill was among multiple university presidents earlier this week who dodged direct answers to a question from Rep. Elisa Stefanik, R-N.Y., who demanded during a hearing to know whether calling for Jewish genocide amounted to a violation of their schools' code of conduct against bullying and harassment.

Magill was met with apparent surprise from Stefanik when she claimed that context would determine whether calls for Jewish genocide amounted to a violation of the school's code of conduct.

Magill later released an apology video following the backlash, claiming that during her answer, she "was focused on the university's long-standing policies — aligned with the U.S. Constitution — which say that speech alone is not punishable."

In response, Stevens said he would be withdrawing approximately $100 million worth of limited partnership units in Stone Ridge, which were given to the school in 2017 with the intention of funding the Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance.

The letter suggested that Stevens would be open to reconsidering his donation withdrawal if the school replaces Magill.

Magill is facing increased pressure to resign after her congressional testimony. The board of the Wharton Business School conducted an unprecedented eight meetings since Nov. 16 regarding "hate-based behavior" against Jewish students on campus, according to a letter first obtained by campus newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian.

The board said they remain "deeply concerned about the dangerous and toxic culture on our campus that has been led by a select group of students and faculty and has been permitted by University leadership."

"As a result of the University leadership's stated beliefs and collective failure to act, our board respectfully suggests to you and the Board of Trustees that the University requires new leadership with immediate effect," the board added.

Other donors have also pulled their funding from UPenn, including businessman and former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr., who sent a scathing email to Magill in October accusing his alma mater of exhibiting "moral relativism" that has rendered the institution "almost unrecognizable."

UPenn is among three universities that will be subject to a Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives committee, which is also investigating Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose presidents also face widely criticized congressional testimony regarding antisemitism.

Harvard President Claudine Gay also apologized for her congressional testimony, telling the Harvard Crimson that she failed to adequately condemn threats against Jewish students because she "got caught up in what had become at that point, an extended, combative exchange about policies and procedures."

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is slated to look into each university's learning environments and disciplinary procedures, and issue subpoenas if necessary.

A University of Pennsylvania spokesperson told CP on Friday that the university is aware of the investigation and intends to cooperate fully.

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