A wealthy University of Pennsylvania alumnus has withdrawn a $100million donation following the school president’s lack of response to antisemitism on campus.
Ross Stevens, the founder and CEO of New York-based Stone Ridge Asset Management, said he was appalled by Penn’s response to the anti-Jewish hate.
Stevens, who graduated from Penn in 1991, gave his alma mater millions in funding in December 2017 to help towards a new center for innovation in finance – which is named after him.
Former Penn president Amy Gutmann – a Jewish woman, who is now the US Ambassador to Germany – said when the Stevens Center was opened in 2019: ‘We are so grateful to Ross for his visionary leadership that will enable Penn and Wharton to continue to innovate at the vital intersection of finance and technology.’
But in light of the new president Elizabeth Magill’s lackluster attempt to discipline students who call for the genocide of Jewish people, Stevens has withdrawn his gift.
Ross Stevens, who graduated from Penn in 1991, gave his alma mater millions in funding in December 2017 to help towards a new center for innovation in finance – which was going to be named after him
UPenn President Liz Magill said the school had demonstrated its ‘unyielding commitment to combatting antisemitism’ – but also refused to categorize calls for the genocide of Jews as harassment or a breach of the school’s code of conduct. She smirked as she spoke to Congress
In Stevens’ letter, first published by Axios, he claims Penn violated the terms of their agreement – including its anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.
He said he was ‘appalled’ by the university’s stance on antisemitism.
Stevens added: ‘Its permissive approach to hate speech calling for violence against Jews and laissez-faire attitude toward harassment and discrimination against Jewish students would violate any policies of rules that prohibit harassment and discrimination based on religion, including those of Stone Ridge.’
The wealthy financier is known for his philanthropic flair. Earlier this year, he donated another $100million to University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, where he completed his PhD in 1996.
Stevens was heralded by the school’s dean as ‘exceptionally generous’ and an alumnus who ‘brings focus and clarity of thought regarding how the multiplier effect of educational excellence, economic liberty and free markets can transform lives.’
This comes just hours after Congress launched a full-scale investigation into Penn, Harvard, and MIT for their responses during the hearing on Tuesday.
The House Education and the Workforce Committee will probe the elite schools with the ‘full force of subpoena power,’ after presidents Claudine Gay, Sally Kornbluth, and Liz Magill’s astonishing words and actions this week.
Earlier on Thursday, the University of Pennsylvania’s Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting as president Magill faces calls to resign – but according to sources, ‘nothing’ happened.
The hastily-arranged meeting started at 9am and was held virtually – following a percussive flood of calls, from students and donors alike, for the president of the Ivy League college to be sacked.
This is the latest sign of the mounting pressure on Penn to remove its president after she told Congress that reprimanding students who call for a Jewish genocide was not paramount – but ‘context’ specific.
Magill, a lawyer by trade, smirked and smiled as she refused to categorize calls for the genocide of Jews as harassment or a breach of the school’s code of conduct.
The House Education and the Workforce Committee will probe the elite schools with the ‘full force of subpoena power,’ after presidents Claudine Gay, Sally Kornbluth, and Liz Magill’s astonishing words and actions this week
Scott L. Bok is the Chair of Penn’s Board of Trustees. He is also the CEO of Greenhill & Co., a boutique investment bank in New York.
The Vice Chair, who also attended the meeting, is Jewish banker Julie Beren Platt.
She is a philanthropist who has also served as the chair of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America since 2022 – which helps distribute $3 billion to non-profits each year.
Beren Platt, who is now based in Los Angeles, graduated from Penn with a bachelor’s degree in 1979. She is the mother to prominent Hollywood actor Ben Platt.
In her charitable career, Beren Platt was one of the first people to sign the Jewish Future Pledge – a campaign encouraging Jewish people to give to good causes.
William P. Lauder, the billionaire chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies, Andy Rachleff, co-founder of Wealthfront, and Bonnie Miao Bandeen, a former Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, are also among Penn’s Trustees.
Insurance magnate Alan D. Schnitzer, venture capitalist Theodore E. Schlein, and Stacey G. Snider, the former CEO of 20th Century Studios, are also on the board.
Amy Gutmann – who was the longest-serving president of the University of Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2022 – is Jewish, and her father escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
On October 19, she wrote on social media: ‘My father, Kurt Gutmann, who escaped Nazi Germany, taught me to stand up and speak out against all forms of hatred. Everywhere. Always. #NeverAgainIsNow.’
Scott L. Bok is the Chair of Penn’s Board of Trustees. The Vice Chair is Julie Beren Platt
Meanwhile, a petition calling for Magill’s resignation has grown to more than 12,300 signatures by Thursday morning.
Magill attempted to rectify the situation on Wednesday, by releasing a video message on Penn’s social media. She stopped short of apologizing.
In the video, she said she was not ‘focused’ on the issue, and said she wanted to ‘be clear’ that calls for genocide were ‘evil, plain and simple’ – although she said the blame lay with her university’s policies and the constitution, rather than with her.
She said that as she sat with the presidents from MIT and Harvard, she was ‘focused on our university’s longstanding policies aligned with the U.S. Constitution, which say that speech alone is not punishable.’
Magill said Penn would evaluate and clarify the university’s policies on antisemitism.
During the shocking hearing, MIT’s Sally Kornbluth and Harvard’s Claudine Gay gave equally deplorable answers when quizzed about their colleges’ code of conduct.
All three colleges – considered the best academic institutions in the world – have witnessed a slew of unregulated anti-Israel protests since Hamas’ October 7 attack.
When Magill was nominated to take over as Penn’s president in 2022, she ran on the ticket flexing her ‘passionate commitment to academic excellence, diversity, equity, and inclusion.’
In a sensational attempt to backtrack after her appalling conduct in front of Congress, Magill posted a groveling video statement on Wednesday
This is the latest sign of the mounting, intense pressure on Penn to remove their president, who told Congress that reprimanding students who call for a Jewish genocide was not paramount – instead, it’s ‘context’ specific
MIT’s Sally Kornbluth and Harvard’s Claudine Gay (left) gave equally deplorable answers when quizzed about their colleges’ code of conduct
She pledged to promote free speech at the Philadelphia institution.
Part of that ‘free speech,’ it has transpired since Magill’s astonishing words in front of Congress, includes the lack of discipline for Penn students who call for the genocide of the Jewish people.
Magill has been an academic and visiting professor at the University of Virginia, Cambridge University in England, Harvard Law School, and Princeton University.
She started her education at Yale, completing a History degree in 1988.
Before joining Penn, Magill was the Dean at Stanford Law School for seven years. Her legacy at the West Coast college was ‘expanding and redesigning student life initiatives’ with her ‘strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion.’
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro slammed Magill’s comments.
He said: ‘That was an unacceptable statement from the president of Penn.
‘Frankly, I thought her comments were absolutely shameful.
‘It should not be hard to condemn genocide.’
Senator Doug Mastriano called for Magill’s immediate resignation on Thursday.
He wrote: ‘Your answer, combined with your demeanor (the smirk you wore on your face while delivering it) raised serious concerns about your personal commitment and the university’s willingness and ability to enact and advance policies to prevent antisemitic activity at the University of Pennsylvania.’
Senator Bob Casey said in response to Magill’s congressional appearance: ‘President Magill’s comments yesterday were offensive, but equally offensive was what she didn’t say.
‘The right to free speech is fundamental, but calling for the genocide of Jews is antisemitic and harassment, full stop.’
Senator John Fetterman also described the testimony as ‘a significant fail.’
He wrote: ‘There is no ‘both sides-ism’ and it isn’t ‘free speech,’ it’s simply hate speech. It was embarrassing for a venerable Pennsylvania university, and it should be reflexive for leaders to condemn antisemitism and stand up for the Jewish community or any community facing this kind of invective.’
Alex Immerman, who attended Penn’s Wharton Business School and is now a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said that he demanded his 2023 donation back from the college.
He wrote: ‘Yesterday I called Penn and asked for a refund on my 2023 donation. I have loved Penn for as long as I can remember.
‘It prepared me for my career and gave me lifelong friends, my wife, and incredible memories. But I can no longer support the moral bankruptcy of its leadership.’