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Updated December 22nd, 2023 at 15:29 IST

Another billionaire slams chequebook on Harvard amid antisemitism concerns

Blavatnik, who is Jewish himself, and his wife Emily have been generous benefactors to Harvard, donating at least $270 million over the years.

Sagar Kar
AP
Harvard | Image:AP
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Harvard University is facing a growing financial crisis as prominent donors withdraw their support in protest of the university's handling of alleged antisemitism on campus. The latest to join the exodus is billionaire businessman Len Blavatnik, who has paused his millions of dollars in donations to the Ivy League institution.

Blavatnik, a Harvard Business School alumnus, decided to halt his funding until the university directly addresses the issue of antisemitism, according to a report from New York Post. This decision comes after a string of other high-profile donors, including former Victoria's Secret CEO Les Wexner and hedge funder Bill Ackman, have also cut ties with Harvard over its perceived inaction against antisemitic rhetoric on campus.

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Blavatnik's ties to Harvard

Blavatnik, who is Jewish himself, and his wife Emily have been generous benefactors to Harvard, donating at least $270 million over the years. A significant portion of their contributions, around $200 million, went directly to the university's medical school. The suspension of their support represents a major financial blow to Harvard, especially considering the ongoing investigations and potential loss of federal funding.

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Congressional scrutiny and federal investigation

The backlash against Harvard intensified following President Claudine Gay's controversial testimony before Congress. During the hearing, Gay's comments about the context of potentially antisemitic speech drew sharp criticism and accusations of downplaying the issue. Subsequently, the university faced investigations by both the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Department of Education, which is looking into whether Harvard violated the civil rights of Jewish students under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

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Harvard's uncertain future

Harvard's reputation and financial stability are hanging in the balance as it grapples with these mounting challenges. The loss of major donors and the potential loss of federal funding could force the university to make significant changes, including potentially altering its admissions policies, which have long been criticized for favoring wealthy applicants.

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It remains to be seen how Harvard will address these concerns and regain the trust of its donors and the public. The university's future hinges on its ability to effectively tackle antisemitism on campus and demonstrate a genuine commitment to inclusivity and equality for all students.

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Published December 22nd, 2023 at 15:29 IST

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