UPenn Donor Pulls $100 Million Gift After President's Controversial Testimony on Anti-Semitism

Liz Magill, then-president of University of Pennsylvania, testifies before the House Education and Workforce Committee (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
December 7, 2023

A donor to the University of Pennsylvania withdrew a gift worth around $100 million from the school Thursday, the latest instance of fallout following elite university presidents' controversial congressional testimony on campus anti-Semitism.

Ross Stevens, an alumnus of the university's Wharton School of Business and founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, cited the college's response to anti-Semitism, including President Liz Magill's answers in her Tuesday testimony to Congress, in his decision to withdraw the donation, Axios reported.

"Mr. Stevens and Stone Ridge are appalled by the university's stance on anti-Semitism on campus," Stevens's lawyers wrote in a letter to the university. "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 lawyers cited Magill's testimony to Congress on Tuesday, in which she suggested calling for the genocide of Jews would not necessarily violate her college's rules regarding bullying and harassment.

"It is a context-dependent decision," Magill said after Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) asked whether such calls would violate the school's code of conduct.

Stevens's lawyers noted that Magill "belatedly acknowledged" that such calls would be harassment "only after her Congressional testimony went viral and demands for her termination amplified."

Stevens's withdrawal of the gift is the latest backlash toward the university following Magill's testimony. Her comments drew denunciation from Pennsylvania's political leaders on Wednesday, including Gov. Josh Shapiro (D.), Sen. Bob Casey (D.), and Republican Senate candidate David McCormick. Magill issued a statement on Wednesday clarifying her comments and committing to evaluate the school's policies in light of the "signs of hate proliferating across our campus and our world in a way not seen in years."

Presidents Sally Kornbluth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Claudine Gay of Harvard Univeristy testified with Magill and gave similar answers to Stefanik's question, declining to affirm that calls for genocide would qualify as bullying and harassment.

Gay issued a statement Wednesday claiming "those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account," but that did not stop David Wolpe, a visiting scholar at the university's divinity school, from resigning from Gay's newly created advisory board dedicated to stopping anti-Semitism. He cited Gay's "painfully inadequate testimony" and an ideology on campus that "places Jews as oppressors and therefore intrinsically evil," though he added that he believed Gay "to be both a kind and thoughtful person."