Penn Trustee Emeritus and Penn Law School Overseer Paul Levy sent a letter of resignation to Penn President Amy Gutmann on April 6 over recent actions taken against Penn Law School professor Amy Wax. A copy of the letter was also sent to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
As of April 9, Levy is no longer listed as a member of Penn's Board of Trustees or a member of the Penn Law Board of Overseers.
"Preventing Wax from teaching first-year students doesn't right academic or social wrongs," Levy wrote in the letter. "Rather, you are suppressing what is crucial to the liberal educational project: open, robust and critical debate over differing views of important social issues."
"A serious error has been made; please reconsider this illiberal ban on Wax's pedagogy," he continued.
Penn Law Dean Ted Ruger's action against Wax on March 13 came after campaigns from students and alumni calling for him to take a stand against the professor.
Wax, who has become known to make controversial statements promoting "bourgeois culture," most recently declared that black students rarely graduate top of their class, prompting Ruger to ban her from teaching a mandatory first-year law course.
"I don't think I've ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the [Penn Law School] class and rarely, rarely in the top half … I can think of one or two students who've graduated in the top half of my required first year course," Wax said during the video interview, which recently resurfaced and prompted Ruger to make his public statement in March.
Ruger claimed that Wax violated Penn Law School policy by divulging student grades.
Levy castigated Ruger in the letter, claiming that the dean failed to solicit his opinion on the matter before issuing the decision against Wax because he "did not want to encounter opposing views."
In an email to the DP, University spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy wrote that the administration stands by Ruger's decision to take action against Wax.
"Teaching assignments are handled exclusively at the decanal level, and Dean Ruger has thoroughly explained his thinking on the matter and the Administration supports his decision," MacCarthy wrote.
In the letter, Levy also noted several of his qualifications and his long-time relationship with the University.
Levy, a 1972 Penn Law graduate, chaired the Board of Overseers from 2001 to 2007. His wife, Karen Levy, is a trustee emerita of Brown University and a trustee of the Juilliard School of Music and Rockefeller University. Both have donated large amounts to the University including gifts for the Levy Scholars Program and the reconstruction of the Levy Conference Center.
Their daughters, 2003 College graduate Rebecca Levy Anikstein and Charlotte Levy, both received law degrees from Penn in 2009.
In 2016, Penn honored Levy with an Alumni Award of Merit noting his extensive contributions to the University.
He also helped organize a fundraising campaign — “Bold Ambitions: The Campaign for Penn Law” — for his alma mater under former Penn Law Dean Michael Fitts, which greatly exceeded donation goals by millions.
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