December 8 – Ross Stevens, CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, is set to donate $100 million to the University of Pennsylvania, but it has a condition.
President Elizabeth McGill needs to step down.
McGill, along with presidents from Harvard and MIT, testified at a recent US House of Representatives hearing on anti-Semitism on college campuses and their response to death threats toward the Jewish population were lukewarm at best.
Since then, calls from a wide variety of groups and individuals have been made for the presidents to step down from their respective colleges.
Attorney Clint Barkdoll suggested, “I don’t know that she makes it through the weekend. Penn’s board called an emergency meeting yesterday. The reporting is they met for at least a couple of hours and this is very much on the agenda. You’re seeing calls from all across the political spectrum, Republicans, Democrats and everything in between saying that these universities need to fire these presidents. They simply didn’t step up and rise to the occasion during their Congressional testimony this week in condemning these calls for Jewish genocide. I don’t know if you’re on board, as I said yesterday, money talks in these situations. When you’ve got a $100 million donation that’s being pulled, and that’s one of many that are going to be pulled, that has to be getting the board’s attention. If you’re in that boardroom, I imagine part of the discussion is for the betterment of the university, we need to fire this person because we can’t afford to alienate all of these alumni, corporate donors, friends, students, the list goes on and on. So it’ll be interesting to see at the end of today of those three presidents. Have any of them been fired? I think there’s a good chance she could be fired today.”
Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “As you look at this administration, and how we have to have the right people that check the right boxes, to have the right look of our organization or the makeup of our presidency, it’s not about competence. It’s about what box is being checked by these individuals in these places of power. Do these three women who couldn’t handle basic questions, is it about checking the box with these three or do they actually have some chops and some intelligence between their ears?”
Barkdoll said, “The UPenn president, she is a very serious character. She used to be the Dean of the University of Virginia Law School. She’s considered a widely respected constitutional law scholar. She went to Yale, but in some ways it almost makes her situation worse to think there she was in front of that Congressional committee. You would think these questions about when is it free speech, when does it cross the line into criminal conduct would have been squarely within her wheelhouse, but she was very uncomfortable, unable to answer those questions. So, I don’t know if that helps or hurts her case, the fact that she has such an extensive pedigree in the area of law. I’m not as familiar with the backgrounds of those presidents at MIT or Harvard, although I did see some editorials about them, saying that they were chosen because of DEI initiatives at those schools and maybe we’re not the most qualified people for those positions. So if the board does end up firing any of these three, who then replaces them? That’ll be another interesting thing to watch on who steps in to fill this void.”
Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “The calls are getting great. The Wharton School, that’s a very powerful part of that university (UPenn). Liz, Mary Elizabeth, by the way was her original name, she was raised by conservative Republican parents, Reagan-loving. I think father was a conservative, Republican federal judge or that was his party. She changed after hitting higher education. She changed her name to Liz and Liz was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she clerked for her. Then she went to the University of Virginia, was there for many years, and really developed her progressive liberal chops. Interestingly enough, she’s been called upon to get rid of a very conservative tenured professor there too. Who may have some questionable ideas. So I think maybe that’s off the table if Liz manages to survive this. I don’t think she will. There’s been Senator Mastriano, of course, calling for her to step down and Democrat State Senator Steve Santarsiero who doesn’t share Doug’s politics at all has also asked for her to step down. So I think we also need to look at the foreign investments into universities. I’ve been looking at that for the last couple of days and the Hill did an excellent article on the influence of these foreign backers, Qatar in particular, and all the backing of the Students for Justice in Palestine. Researching that I’ll give credit to the Hill for this. They saw who that’s being funded by, a lot of money from Qatar, a lot of Hamas supporters going to that. They’re getting a lot of their advice from other groups that can be traced back to Hamas. So we really have to look at these groups on campuses and to see where that money’s coming from and what kind of ideology they’re promoting. Then we hear it in the calls that we hear from the students chanting on these campuses and for them to have that scripted in context, and remember, in context that comes from equity. You have to look at everything in context. You can’t apply the same standards or the same laws. You have to look at it in context. All three of those university presidents seem to have the same script and it can be traced to equity.”
Barkdoll added, “I wonder if they also had the same attorney coaching them because all three of them kept giving that identical answer, and I think the three of us could have crafted a more effective answer. Just, of course, we condemn this call for genocide. We recognize free speech rights, hate speech is free speech, but that crosses a line when they’re making threats of physical violence. They’re disrupting the campus environment. Elizabeth McGill from Penn remembered the night of that testimony before Congress. She did this video she released where she tried to clean up her testimony and walk it back. I’m not sure that helped her cause either. I think the more people are looking at the leadership of these universities and you also saw Governor Shapiro condemn their testimony yesterday, the more pressure you’re seeing that’s ramping up on these boards saying you need to get these people out of there.”
Jansen said, “Funny that she (McGill) had a smirk on her face, everybody noticed when she was answering in front of Congress. Then they said it looked like she was just reading from her computer when she gave that so-called clean up speech. That didn’t help her either.”
Barkdoll said, “The presidents at Harvard and MIT, they’ve been a little bit lower key since that testimony. I don’t know if those boards met yesterday or our meeting today, but when you see 100 million dollar donations that are going to get pulled, that’s going to get the board’s attention. Remember boards have a fiduciary duty, a legal duty, to what’s best for the university, not for what’s best for that president and when they see that kind of money going out the door, I think there’s where you see the pressure that they may be forced to take action here.”
PA Representative Rich Irvin said, “I did actually have a chance to tune into some of the hearings that the Congress had with the Ivy League presidents and it was very, as far as I was concerned, a disgusting display of lack of transparency. That’s one thing I think at the state level, we have been working together to try to achieve, that our state related universities do have significant transparency reform so that we can see where the money’s going and to make sure that we are positive that they are giving our children, our students the best education without the indoctrination that’s happening in our universities today. It’s just sad that these universities are not standing strong behind Israel and the atrocities that Hamas have actually committed in the October 7 raid on the Israeli people. I think that with the outpouring of outlandish reaction that we’re getting out of our universities, I will give credit where credit’s due, and I do actually support the fact that Governor Shapiro has stood up against a lot of these anti semitic protests. Even our United States Senator John Fetterman came out and had mentioned that as well, standing against it as well. So I think that it’s just a small group of radical people that are actually supporting what’s going on and whenever you have our universities that are fostering this, it’s just uncalled for.”
Jansen said, “Let’s just hope that Shapiro and Fetterman start looking at the policies that actually support this kind of behavior and ask also for transparency from the universities. It’s amazing how much money’s gone for Indiana University, for instance, from Qatar. The reporting on this, Section 117 of the Universities of Higher Education Act is very lax and vague as to how well they’re supposed to report these things. So hopefully, let’s get Fetterman helping out Congressman Joyce wants to support more transparency about where money’s coming from to these universities and let’s hope Governor Shapiro supports what you guys are asking for, for more transparency. Words are cheap. I want to see actions from Shapiro and from Fetterman.”