Too Much Heat! Harvard President Claudine Gay Resigns | WATCH

Matt Egan, CNN

*New York (CNN) — Harvard President Claudine Gay announced Tuesday she is stepping down amid a firestorm of controversy at the university.

“It is with a heavy heart but a deep love for Harvard that I write to share that I will be stepping down as president,” Gay wrote in a letter 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 did not say when she plans to formally step down but she described the decision as “difficult beyond words.”

“Amidst all of this, 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,” Gay wrote.

Claudine Gay resigns from Harvard / Steven Senne-AP)
Claudine Gay (Steven Senne-AP)

She is resigning just six months into her presidency. The first Black president in Harvard’s nearly 400-year history and the second woman, Gay acknowledged how short her tenure was.

“When my brief presidency is remembered, I hope it will be seen as a moment of reawakening to the importance of striving to find our common humanity — and of not allowing rancor and vituperation to undermine the vital process of education,” Gay said.

She was undone in part by her responses at a congressional hearing last month, as well as an ongoing plagiarism scandal.

At the House hearing, Gay was criticized for a lack of direct answers about policies and procedures to combat bullying and harassment of Jewish students.

Alan M. Garber, who currently serves as provost and chief academic officer at Harvard, will step in as interim president until the school finds a new leader, the Harvard Corporation announced in a letter on Tuesday.

Harvard University raid on black students
Harvard University – Getty

The Corporation said the search for a new president would “begin in due course,” but did not specify an exact timeline.

Gay said in her letter she would return to a faculty position “and to the scholarship and teaching that are the lifeblood of what we do.”

A spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

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