Larry Hogan Withdraws From Harvard Fellowships Amid Controversy

Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has recently made headlines by withdrawing from two prestigious fellowship programs at Harvard University. The decision comes in the wake of controversy surrounding the university’s response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Hogan — a Republican and moderate politician — had planned to participate in fellowships at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

However, he has now chosen to distance himself from Harvard due to what he perceives as the institution’s failure to denounce what he calls “antisemitic vitriol” on campus. This move sheds light on the broader implications universities face when it comes to navigating sensitive geopolitical issues and maintaining a balanced academic environment.

Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, resulting in the deaths of over 1,400 Israelis and leaving hundreds more wounded and taken hostage. The conflict continues to be a source of tension in the Middle East.

The international community has largely condemned the attack, which particularly affected the Jewish population. In the aftermath of the attack, more than 30 student organizations at Harvard signed a joint statement that blamed Israel for the violence.

Months ago, Hogan had accepted offers to participate in the aforementioned prestigious fellowships at Harvard, recognizing the opportunity to share his leadership insights with the next generation of leaders.

However, he has now rescinded these offers due to what he perceives as Harvard’s failure to address the antisemitic sentiment expressed in the student groups’ statement.

In a letter addressed to Harvard President Claudine Gay, Hogan expressed his concerns about the dangerous rise of antisemitism on campus and the need for the institution to take immediate and forceful action against hate speech.

Hogan continued, “We must take a clear stand in the face of genocidal acts against the Jewish people or any group. There is no “both sides” when it comes to the murder, rape, and kidnapping of innocent women and children.”

But Harvard’s delay in condemning antisemitic rhetoric from student groups hurts its reputation.

Hogan’s decision to withdraw from the Harvard fellowships is not an isolated incident. Several prominent figures — including CEOs and business leaders — have expressed their dissatisfaction with Harvard’s response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Some have called for the identification and blacklisting of the students who signed the joint statement, while others have severed ties with the university altogether.

Many have echoed Hogan’s statements and thanked him for taking a stand.

Former Harvard President Larry Summers, who felt “alienated” by the university’s initial response, cautioned against vilifying the students involved. He noted many of them may not have understood the implications of the statement before it was released. Still, he emphasized the need for constructive dialogue and rhetoric that aims to illuminate rather than inflame.

Harvard University, in response to the backlash, has issued statements condemning the violence perpetrated by Hamas and reiterating that no student group speaks for the university or its leadership.

President Claudine Gay expressed her condemnation of antisemitism and her commitment to ensuring that Jewish life thrives on campus.

She did note the need to do more to foster a sense of belonging for all members of the community and to address the challenging dynamics surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict, but her statement came as too little too late to much of the public.

The controversy surrounding Harvard’s response to the Israel-Hamas conflict highlights the broader challenges faced by universities in navigating complex geopolitical issues. Universities may struggle to strike a balance between protecting free speech and promoting an inclusive school environment.

Hogan’s withdrawal and the subsequent backlash highlight the pressure universities face from — alumni, donors, and the wider public — to take a clear stance on sensitive issues.

Larry Hogan served as the governor of Maryland for two terms, from 2015 to 2021. Hogan is not widely known on the national stage, but he has garnered popular support among some voters spanning the political spectrum. He has been a strong advocate for the No Labels platform.

Many sources have speculated Hogan could make a bid for the White House in 2024. The door is open for a third-party run.

While Hogan’s decision to withdraw from the Harvard fellowships may have political implications, his primary motivation appears to be a principled stand against what he views as the university’s failure to address antisemitism — something most of us can get behind.