Skip to Content

Harvard antisemitism official abruptly resigns from new task force

By Matt Egan, CNN

New York (CNN) — The co-chair of a newly formed task force fighting antisemitism at Harvard University has abruptly stepped down after barely a month at the helm.

The sudden resignation by Harvard Business School professor Raffaella Sadun, disclosed Sunday evening, is a setback for the Ivy League school’s efforts to combat antisemitism.

Alan Garber, Harvard’s interim president, announced Sunday the full slate of members to the antisemitism presidential task force and explained Sadun has been replaced as co-chair because she “decided to refocus her efforts on her research, teaching and administrative responsibilities” at Harvard Business School.

Sadun’s “insights and passion for this work have helped shape the mandate for the task force and how it can best productively advance the important work ahead,” Garber said in a separate statement to CNN. “She has advanced our efforts to be a stronger, more inclusive Harvard and for that we owe her our deep thanks.”

Sadun said in a statement provided by Harvard that she is “grateful to have had the opportunity to advance the vital work to combat antisemitism” and believes Garber has “assembled an excellent task force.”

It’s not clear whether other factors may have played a role in her decision to step down so quickly after the task force was first formed just last month.

Harvard remains under enormous scrutiny from politicians, regulators, alumni and others.

Some Jewish alumni are even taking the step of auditing Harvard in a bid to identify sources of antisemitism.

Members of the Harvard Jewish Alumni Alliance have conducted an audit of classes and events at the Ivy League school, Roni Brunn, a spokesperson for the group, confirmed to CNN on Sunday.

News of the extraordinary university-wide audit was previously reported by the Boston Globe.

Shortly after The Harvard Crimson first reported that Sadun had resigned, billionaire Bill Ackman blasted the news out to his 1.2 million followers on X, saying: “The half life of a @Harvard antisemitism task force member is about 60 days. I wonder what’s going on.”

It’s not clear what Ackman was referring to. Garber announced the formation of the task force on January 19, just 38 days ago.

But Rabbi David Wolpe, a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Divinity School, announced in December his resignation from his role on a separate Antisemitism Advisory Group. His resignation came just days after former Harvard President Claudine Gay’s disastrous testimony before Congress in which she struggled condemn calls for genocide of Jews on campus.

When Garber announced the presidential task force on antisemitism, he tapped Sadun and Harvard professor Derek Penslar to co-chair it. Within days, Penslar’s selection sparked a backlash, with some critics including famed economist Larry Summers raising concerns about his background and previous positions.

Penslar remains on the presidential task force, after receiving significant internal and external support. Sadun will be replaced as co-chair by Jared Ellias, a Harvard law professor.

The rest of the antisemitism task force is being filled out by various students, professors and administrators at Harvard. Garber also announced on Sunday the selections for a separate presidential task force designed to fight anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias.

Harvard has been under intense scrutiny for rising hate speech on campus. Earlier this month, a congressional committee investigating campus antisemitism took the unprecedented step of issuing multiple subpoenas to Harvard, compelling the university to turn over documents lawmakers are seeking.

Separately, the Department of Education at the beginning of February announced a new investigation into Harvard’s handling of alleged discrimination on its campus after a federal civil rights complaint was filed late last month against Harvard on behalf of Muslim and Palestinian students.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

CNN Newsource


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content