Scott Bok, chairman of the board of trustees at the University of Pennsylvania, on Saturday submitted his resignation effective immediately.
“Today, following the resignation of the University of Pennsylvania’s President and related Board of Trustee meetings, I submitted my resignation as Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, effective immediately. While I was asked to remain in that role for the remainder of my term in order to help with the presidential transition, I concluded that, for me, now was the right time to depart,” Bok said in a statement.
His announcement came shortly after University of Pennsylvania's President, Liz Magill, voluntarily tendered her resignation in the wake of her controversial congressional testimony on campus antisemitism.
Commenting on Magill’s resignation in his statement, Bok wrote, “Former President Liz Magill last week made a very unfortunate misstep—consistent with that of two peer university leaders sitting alongside her—after five hours of aggressive questioning before a Congressional committee. Following that, it became clear that her position was no longer tenable, and she and I concurrently decided that it was time for her to exit.”
“The world should know that Liz Magill is a very good person and a talented leader who was beloved by her team. She is not the slightest bit antisemitic. Working with her was one of the great pleasures of my life. Worn down by months of relentless external attacks, she was not herself last Tuesday. Over prepared and over lawyered given the hostile forum and high stakes, she provided a legalistic answer to a moral question, and that was wrong. It made for a dreadful 30-second sound bite in what was more than five hours of testimony,” he added.
On Tuesday, at a congressional hearing on campus antisemitism, Magill was asked by Rep. Elise Stefanik whether "calling for the genocide of Jews" is against the universities' respective codes of conduct.
Responding to this, Magill said that "it is a context-dependent decision," leading Stefanik to reply, "Calling for the genocide of Jews is dependent on the context? That is not bullying or harassment? This is the easiest question to answer 'yes,' Ms. Magill."
Magill later sought to clarify her statements, saying in a video posted to social media, "I was focused on our University's long standing policies aligned with the US Constitution, which say that speech alone is not punishable. I was not focused on, but I should have been, the irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate. It's evil, plain and simple."
"I want to be clear. A call for genocide of Jewish people is threatening – deeply so. It is intentionally meant to terrify a people who have been subjected to pogroms and hatred for centuries and were the victims of mass genocide in the Holocaust. In my view, it would be harassment or intimidation."