Former Republican presidential candidate, Utah governor, and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. told the University of Pennsylvania that the Huntsman Foundation — which has donated tens of millions of dollars to the university for decades — would halt its funding because of the university’s silence in the face of the evil perpetrated by Hamas.
Huntsman, a 1987 Penn graduate, served on the University’s Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2001. He later served as deputy U.S. trade representative, ambassador to Singapore under presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, ambassador to China under Barack Obama, and ambassador to Russia under Donald Trump. His father, Jon Huntsman Sr., graduated from Penn in 1959, donated $10 million to fund the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, and donated $40 million in 1998.
“Moral relativism has fueled the university’s race to the bottom and sadly now has reached a point where remaining impartial is no longer an option,” Huntsman Jr. said in an email to Penn President Liz Magill.
“The University’s silence in the face of reprehensible and historic Hamas evil against the people of Israel (when the only response should be outright condemnation) is a new low,” Huntsman wrote. “Silence is antisemitism, and antisemitism is hate, the very thing higher ed was built to obviate. Consequently, Huntsman Foundation will close its checkbook on all future giving to Penn — something that has been a source of enormous pride for now three generations of graduates. that his family will stop donating to Penn, stripping the University of a longtime donor amid backlash from influential trustees and alumni. My siblings join me in this rebuke.”
BREAKING: 1987 College graduate Jon Huntsman Jr. told Penn President Liz Magill on Saturday that his family will stop donating to Penn, stripping the University of a longtime donor amid backlash from influential trustees and alumni.https://t.co/MMnNvTStZE
— The Daily Pennsylvanian (@dailypenn) October 15, 2023
Magill and Provost John L. Jackson had previously stated last Tuesday that they were “devastated by the horrific assault on Israel,” but did not condemn the attack.
On Friday, Penn Board of Trustees member Vahan Gureghian announced he was resigning, saying, “Like so many elite academic institutions, the leadership of UPenn has failed us through an embrace of antisemitism, a failure to stand for justice, and complete negligence in the defense of its own students’ well being.”
By Saturday, one week after the Hamas attack, University Board of Trustees Chair Scott Bok condemned the “atrocious terrorist attacks.”
“In a statement to the DP, Bok wrote that former and current trustees met for two unofficial meetings with Magill in recent days to discuss guidance,” The Daily Pennsylvanian noted.
The Daily Pennsylvanian reported on Sunday, “Amid backlash from some trustees and donors, Penn President Liz Magill issued another statement Sunday morning condemning Hamas and emphasizing the University’s position on antisemitism. In her second statement since the Hamas attack on Israel, Magill referred to the Hamas violence as a ‘terrorist assault,’ a change from her initial statement.”