Harvard Looks To Salvage Reputation In Meetings With Silicon Valley Executives

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Brandon Poulter Contributor
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Harvard endowment managers are attempting to save face with several venture capital firms after the resignation of President Claudine Gay and what many see as the university’s weak response to antisemitism on campus, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Donors began to pull their funding from the university over its response to alleged antisemitism on campus following the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel, and venture-capital executives who invest money for the university also expressed similar concerns, the WSJ reported. Harvard Management Company’s (HMC) executives, who watch over the more than $50 billion endowment fund, met with several concerned Silicon Valley venture capital investors last week, including at Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz, according to the WSJ. (RELATED: Claudine Gay Had A History Of Adding To Harvard’s Diversity Bureaucracy Before Stepping Up To The Presidency)

Paul Finnegan, the endowment’s chair and a member of the Harvard Corporation, the university’s highest governing board, attended some of the meetings, which is unusual, according to the WSJ. Finnegan said at several meetings he was aware that some felt that diversity, equity and inclusion programs at the school had gone too far and that some professors felt they did not have academic freedom, while also claiming that the university is considering whether to make changes.

People enter and exit Harvard Yard at a gate at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on December 12, 2023. (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

“HMC is fortunate to have strong, longstanding relationships with many investment managers who care deeply about higher education,” Harvard endowment spokesman Patrick McKiernan told the WSJ. “It is important to engage with our partners and share with them all of the ways that Harvard is actively working to ensure student safety and protect freedom of speech.”

The university’s endowment gained an average of 8.2% a year for the past 10 fiscal years and 9.1% in the past five, according to the WSJ. These rates are the second-worst records among similar schools during those time frames.

Gay resigned Jan. 2 following a slew of plagiarism allegations and after refusing to say if calling for the genocide of Jews violated the university’s code of conduct during a Dec. 5 congressional hearing. University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth also dodged questions on the matter, and Magill resigned Dec. 9.

Harvard did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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