Julie Platt
Julie PlattJFNA

Julie Platt, the Chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, has been appointed as interim chair of the University of Pennsylvania Board after the former chair resigned amid backlash from the university president's controversial congressional testimony on campus antisemitism.

"This evening, following the resignation of University of Pennsylvania Board Chair Scott Bok, the board asked me to serve as interim chair. I made clear that my priority is my role as chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, and, therefore, agreed to do so and lead the process of selecting a new chair by the start of the next semester, which begins in January 2024," Platt wrote in a statement.

"As Vice Chair of the university’s board these past several months, I have worked hard from the inside to address the rising issues of antisemitism on campus. Unfortunately, we have not made all the progress that we should have and intend to accomplish. In my view, given the opportunity to choose between right and wrong, the three university presidents testifying in the United States House of Representatives failed. The leadership change at the university was, therefore, necessary and appropriate. I will continue as a board member of the university to use my knowledge and experience of Jewish life in North America and at Penn to accelerate this critical work," she added.

She concluded: "As chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, we are leading the largest mobilization in our history in support of Israel’s right to protect its citizens and against the rise of antisemitism in North America, including staging the largest Jewish rally in American history on the National Mall. We will continue this fight with all our energy."

Former Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the University of Pennsylvania, Scott Bok, submitted his resignation on Saturday, stating: “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.”

His announcement came shortly after the 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.”

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."