‘Everyone’s Concerned’: Harvard Is Worried About Losing More Longtime Donors After Response To Hamas Attack

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Brandon Poulter Contributor
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Harvard University is concerned about losing more donors after its response to the Israel-Hamas conflict, according to The Harvard Crimson.

Many donors publicly cut ties with Harvard and condemned the university following its response to the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel that killed over 1,400 people. Harvard gift officers, who maintain relationships with donors, are worried that the administration’s response to the conflict and to concerns about antisemitism on campus may result in more donors fleeing, according to the Crimson, the student-run newspaper. (RELATED: Harvard President Unveils Effort To Combat Antisemitism After Taking Fire Over Response To Hamas Attacks)

“I have talked to people in the administration of the University and I know they’re concerned. Everyone’s concerned about it,” Kenneth G. Lipper, a former member of the Executive Committee of the Committee of University Resources, which consists of people who’ve donated at least $1 million to the elite school, told the Crimson.

Supporters of Palestine gather at Harvard University to show their support for Palestinians in Gaza at a rally in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 14, 2023. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP)

“It’s a difficult time for the president and it’s a difficult time for the University,” he continued.

Over 30 student organizations signed a letter blaming Israel for the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks, sparking widespread public outrage. Harvard President Claudine Gay released a statement in response to the students noting that they do not speak for the university, but that they do have a “right to speak.”

The Wexner Foundation, founded by billionaire Leslie Wexner, announced in October that it would no longer be funding the university.

“Harvard has been sustained by huge gifts in hundreds of millions of dollars that are almost incomprehensible, and those are going to be more difficult to come by,” Peter L. Malkin, a Harvard grad and namesake of the Malkin Athletic Center, told the Crimson.

Andrew Levy, another Harvard grad, decided to stop donating once former University President Lawrence H. Summers publicly condemned the University’s response, according to the Crimson.

“Although my amount of money is not significant, as a symbolic act, I feel it would be disingenuous for me to give any more money to Harvard,” Levy told the Crimson.

Students across the country held rallies at elite colleges in support of Palestinians following the attacks, and many included anti-Israeli slogans and imagery associated with the terrorist attacks. Harvard, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania created taskforces to address antisemitism on their campuses.

“A university president or a dean these days has to be spending a lot of time thinking about these issues because they care about their donors, but they cannot just accede to demands that are inappropriate for the academic freedoms and for the actual terms of gifts,” Jeffrey S. Flier, a former dean of Harvard Medical School, told the Crimson.

Harvard did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Bill Ackman had announced he would no longer donate to Harvard. While Ackman has voiced his disapproval of Harvard’s handling of certain issues related to the Israel-Hamas conflict, he has not commented publicly on his intentions surrounding his donations. The story has since been updated. We regret the error.

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