Claudine Gay, the first Black woman and second woman to lead Harvard, will step down from her role as president at Harvard University after less than a year in the role. Gay faced criticism of her handling of alleged antisemitism on campus and charges of plagiarism in her prior academic work.

Gay sent her resignation letter on Tuesday afternoon to the Harvard community.

"After consultation with members of the Corporation, it has become clear that it is in the best interests of Harvard for me to resign so that our community can navigate this moment of extraordinary challenge with a focus on the institution rather than any individual," Gay wrote.

In December, Gay appeared at a congressional hearing alongside the presidents of MIT and University of Pennsylvania, and came under fire for her responses to questioning from U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik about antisemitism on college campuses.

In her answers, Gay appeared to equivocate about whether calling for the genocide of Jewish people would violate university rules on bullying and harassment. Gay said it depended on the context, sparking outrage and fueling calls for her to step down.

After her resignation, congressional Republicans, including U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, swiftly weighed in to say the resignation was overdue.

"Antisemitism has no place on campus — or anywhere in America," he tweeted on Tuesday.

Stefanik, the House Republican and Harvard alum who questioned Gay in the hearings, claimed victory calling Gay "devoid of the moral leadership and academic integrity required of the President of Harvard."

But Harvard professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad, who teaches history, race and public policy, said the hearing was plainly a raw political attack.

“This is not really about saving Jews in the United States or in Israel or anywhere else,” he said. “These are the same people who've harbored neo-Nazis in the party who have had very little to say about Trump's own antisemitism and relationship with known antisemites.”

The departure is a blow to the university, which heralded Gay's appointment only a year ago. Penny Pritzker, the senior member of Harvard's governing board, welcomed Gay then as a "beacon of excellence" and "someone with deep integrity."

"She leads from values and those values run deep," Pritzker, the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce in the Obama administration, said at the time.

The 11-member governing board said in a statement that it accepted Gay's resignation with sorrow, noting that Harvard and higher education is facing a series of sustained and unprecedented challenges.

"While President Gay has acknowledged missteps and has taken responsibility for them, it is also true that she has shown remarkable resilience in the face of deeply personal and sustained attacks," the statement said, condemning the racist emails and phone calls Gay has received during the controversy.

Gay’s resignation makes her the shortest-serving president in the university’s nearly 400-year history. Some faculty members told GBH News that they were “flabbergasted” by the news.

Alison Frank Johnson, professor of history and Germanic languages and literatures, led a petition signed by more than 700 faculty members who supported Gay.

“This is a sad day for Harvard and for all of us who were looking forward to years of benefitting from Claudine's leadership,” she said.

Shortly after the congressional hearing, Gay apologized for her remarks in an interview in Harvard's student newspaper, expressing regret that her words caused further distress.

The hearing triggered intense scrutiny of Gay, and allegations of plagiarism quickly followed, with accusations that she had plagiarized portions of her published academic work in the 1990s and 2000s.

Harvard's governing body said it had initiated an independent review of Gay's works and found some inadequate citation — but did not go so far as to say she had plagiarized material. Gay submitted corrections to her dissertation and two research articles.

Questions about plagiarism resurfaced again when Harvard said it had found two more examples of inadequate citation in Gay's 1997 doctoral dissertation. Officials said the problem involved “duplicative language without appropriate attribution.”

Some faculty members were troubled by the questions swirling around Gay and plagiarism.

Theda Skocpol, a Harvard professor of government, said some people on campus appeared dismissive of the plagiarism allegations, making her concerned about the kind of message it sends.

“A somewhat larger issue is that ... a lot of people who don’t want to see anyone removed are saying the alleged plagiarism doesn’t matter — and that’s very worrisome,” Skocpol said. “Are we going to send a signal to all of America and academia that using the same language and not doing specific citations would not be a problem?”

In her resignation letter Gay said it has been painful to witness the tensions and divisions that have roiled her brief tenure as president in recent months.

"It has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigor—two bedrock values that are fundamental to who I am—and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus," she wrote in her letter to the Harvard community.

Harvard first-year Charlie Covit, a member of Harvard Hillel, a Jewish organization on campus, said he was shocked by Gay’s resignation. He said both the plagiarism accusations and her failure to condemn Hamas at the congressional hearing were factors in her departure.

“It's important, I think, definitely for the Jewish community, that the main issue here really remains antisemitism,” Covit said. “That hasn't gone away and I don't expect it will go away.”

The December hearings also precipitated the resignation of University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill. Magill resigned last month after she testified at the same hearing and appeared to evade questions about whether students who called for the genocide of Jews should be punished.

The congressional Committee on Education and the Workforce, which led the hearings and was already looking into allegations of antisemitism at Harvard, recently expanded the scope of the investigation to include the allegations of plagiarism against Gay.

The committee sent a letter to Harvard on Dec. 20 requesting documents related to the allegations and any review by Harvard officials.

Stefanik vowed on Tuesday that the committee's work would continue, calling it "just the beginning of what will be the greatest scandal of any college or university in history."

Lynn Pasquerella, the former president of Mount Holyoke College and president of the Association of American Colleges & Universities, characterized the episode as nothing more than a right-wing “targeted political agenda pushing back against what's viewed as liberal progressivism in the academy.”

She said such interference does not bode well for higher education.

"I think it's a signal that the government will have increased intrusion into the autonomy of institutions of higher education," Pasquerella said.

Muhammad, the Harvard public policy professor, said the larger political agenda is an attack on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or DEI programs, on college campuses.

“What they are really doing is using Israel as a Trojan horse for dismantling as much as they can of any infrastructure that would make visible and attempt to address various structural inequalities that exist in the United States,” he said.

Muhammad noted that U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the chairwoman of the congressional committee, also singled out one of his courses while describing the "grave danger" of "race-based ideology."

The new interim administration will be led by Harvard Provost Alan Garber.

Gay will return to her faculty position. She also said in her resignation letter that she hoped continued "rancor and vituperation" would not further undermine the "vital process of education."

"When my brief presidency is remembered," she wrote, "I hope it will be seen as a moment of reawakening to the importance of striving to find our common humanity."