Liz Magill, the University of Pennsylvania's President, was selected for the position 18 months ago. She was described as the 'clear choice' to lead this Ivy League institution.
Today, that consensus has disappeared. She has upset high-profile donors and trustees by trying to appease everyone over the controversial issues of antisemitism and Palestinian rights.
The woman with a gold-plated résumé who was selected last year as the 27th head of the school that is nearly 300 years old and once led by Benjamin Franklin, has seen a dramatic change in her standing. The university, despite its name, is not a public school.
She joined UPenn in the fall of 2009 after holding the second-highest administrative position at the University of Virginia where she attended law school. She became a member of the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania's law school after working as a Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's clerk. She was Dean of Stanford Law before she became Provost for UVa.
Some donors have announced that they are closing their checkbooks due to the decision of Penn's administration to allow speakers who were known to make antisemitic comments to speak at the Palestine Writes Literature Festival last month.
Since the Hamas' attack on Israel, which sparked a war in Israel earlier this month, criticism of the event and the university response has risen. Her resignation is also being called for by some donors. Some donors are also calling for her resignation.
CNN's interview request for Magill at the University was not answered.
Magill was born in Fargo, North Dakota. Her father is a Federal Court of Appeals Judge appointed by Ronald Reagan. Her brother is a Minnesota state court judge. Her husband is a lawyer who practices environmental law.
She said to the Daily Pennsylvanian (the school newspaper) that she did not plan on pursuing a legal career. She majored in history as an undergraduate student at Yale University. After graduation, she intended to pursue a doctorate in history.
After she graduated from college, she worked as a legislative aide to Kent Conrad - the Democratic US Senator of her native state of North Dakota. She worked with Conrad on energy policy and regulation, which led to her interest in government and regulatory laws and eventually to UPenn.
It's no longer clear if Magill can survive the controversy.
Vahan Gureghian resigned as a board member late last week, in protest at the way the Palestine Writes Festival was handled. He says that the decision to choose her was a misstep.
Gureghian told CNN, in a Wednesday phone interview, that she was 'negligent' and 'not really up to the task of being president of one the eight or so elite universities of the world'.
Major donors have also voiced their objections, and are speaking out with their dollars. Mark Rowan is the CEO of Apollo Global Management a private equity company. He has called for Magill to be fired and the Board of Trustees Chairman Scott Bok to be removed over the Palestine Writes Festival.
Magill, along with other university administrators, issued a press release on September 12th in advance of the Palestine Writes Festival and just weeks before war broke out between Israel and Gaza. They acknowledged the antisemitism accusations made against certain speakers.
The statement said that 'we unequivocally and emphatically condemn antisemitism, as it is antithetical to the values of our institution'. The statement also stated that "as an institution, we strongly support the free flow of ideas in our educational mission." It includes expressing views that may be controversial or even incompatible with the values of our institution.
This angered not only those who were against the event but also those that felt it undermined the principles and practices of academic freedom and free speech on campus. In a letter signed by 36 faculty members at the school, they criticized this statement.
The letter from faculty members sent before the festival stated that it was equally important to show our support for Palestinian writers and artists, and to make clear how we condemn antisemitism, Islamophobia, and oppression against Palestinians.
We ask that, as leaders of the Penn Community, you amend your statement immediately so that it clearly supports a diversity in views and a diversity in religious, racial and cultural communities.
Magill released a new declaration on Wednesday to try and bring the two parties together.
"Hateful remarks have no place at Penn. No place. Magill stated that she categorically condemned hateful speech which denigrated others, as it was contrary to her values. In this tragic moment we must recognize the pain of our colleagues and classmates, and that our words and actions can both heal and harm our community. We must choose healing and resist those who want to divide us. Instead, we should respect and care about one another.
Magill got a vote of support from one major donor, Jon Gray, president of asset manager Blackstone, who toldBloombergThursday he would continue to make donations to UPenn in support of low-income students and cancer research , despite his concerns about antisemitism.
Gray stated in an interview with Bloomberg Television that'some of my colleagues from the financial sector and more generally have raised some legitimate concerns regarding hate speech masquerading under the guise of free speech, in the context antisemitism at Penn University and other places'. Gray said that he thought Magill was a nice person. I don't believe she is antisemitic. Magill is supported by the board of trustees of the school.
Bok, the board chairman, said that the group unanimously agreed that the current University leadership team led by President Magill is the best group to move the University forward.
The clout that donors have, who are not happy with the way the controversy has been handled, makes it difficult to predict whether Magill or Bok will stay.
Matt Egan, CNN's Matt Egan, contributed to this article