Longtime investor Steve Eisman is the latest Wall Street executive distancing himself from his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, as the school’s leadership comes under criticism for whether it’s doing enough to fight back against antisemitism following the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.
“The Big Short” investor told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday that, after hearing fellow finance executive Marc Rowan was encouraging donors to close their checkbooks to Penn, he called the university and demanded his family’s name be removed from a scholarship.
“I do not want my family’s name associated with the University of Pennsylvania, ever,” Eisman said he told the university.
Eisman, a senior portfolio manager at investment firm Neuberger Berman, explained to CNBC that he believes any student who “holds up a sign that says free Palestine from the river to the sea should be expelled” from the university, referring to the recent pro-Palestinian protests that have taken place on campus.
Much of the frustration from donors is tied back to the Palestine Writes Literature Festival that took place on Penn’s campus in September. Some of the festival’s speakers have a history of antisemitic remarks. Donors and fellow alumni signed an open letter to the university’s leadership before the festival voicing their concerns about the event.
Penn’s president has since announced a universitywide plan to combat antisemitism. Penn will launch a new task force on antisemitism chaired by Dean of the School of Dental Medicine Mark Wolff, which will hold one of their first meetings later this month.
Similar to Rowan, Eisman said the only way he would associate himself again with the University of Pennsylvania is if the president and chairman of the institution were fired. Rowan said donors should not give to the university until those leaders resign.
Eisman, who was portrayed as Mark Baum in the hit movie “The Big Short” about the 2008 financial crisis, is latest university donor pulling back their allegiance to the University of Pennsylvania out of concern that the school’s leadership is not doing enough to fight antisemitism.
Eisman donated at least $25,000 to Penn between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014. The school’s annual gift book from that time says Eisman was among a group of donors who gave at least $25,000 to support programs at Penn Arts and Sciences.
A press representative for the University of Pennsylvania did not respond to an email seeking comment.
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