Hundreds of Harvard faculty members urge university not to oust embattled president

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More than 700 members of Harvard University’s faculty have signed a letter urging administrators to resist calls to remove the school’s president amid an outcry over her testimony last week at a congressional hearing on campus antisemitism.

“We, the undersigned faculty, urge you in the strongest possible terms to defend the independence of the university and to resist political pressures that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom, including calls for the removal of President Claudine Gay,” the letter says.

“The critical work of defending a culture of free inquiry in our diverse community cannot proceed if we let its shape be dictated by outside forces,” the letter goes on to say. NBC News obtained the text of the letter from history professor Alison Frank Johnson, one of the faculty members leading the effort.

Frank Johnson said 723 people had signed the letter by Monday afternoon — more than a quarter of the school’s 2,452 faculty members. She declined to release the names of the signers but said in an email that she was “very, very pleased by how broad the base of support is!”