A Yale professor accused billionaire Bill Ackman of acting like a “bully” over his fierce crusade against Harvard University and its ousted president Claudine Gay.
“Bill Ackman is a pernicious influence on American education. He thinks his money equals wisdom and even if it doesn’t, he thinks it gives him the right to bully at will,” Gregg Gonsalves, an associate professor at Yale School of Public Health, wrote on X on Tuesday.
“Time to stand up to people like him. He’s odious,” Gonsalves wrote, triggering a public spat with the billionaire Pershing Square Capital Management founder.
Ackman defended himself, asking Gonsalves to clarify: “What did I say about Harvard President Claudine Gay that has to do with money?”
“Other than elevating concerns about Gay that were held by thousands of Harvard students, faculty and alumni, what is ‘pernicious’ about my so-called influence on American education?”
Gonsalves then fired back, sharing: “Give me a break. No one would pay any attention to you except for your money.”
“Why then are you paying attention to me?” Ackman countered, insisting that his fortune — which Forbes pegs to be around $4.1 billion — only affords him the ability “to speak the truth.”
Gonsalves didn’t let up, concluding the tiff with: “Bill. You’re an oligarch,” and again accused Ackman of using his wealth to influence Gay’s ousting.
“Your money and power confer power and undue influence. You misrecognize it as a sign of respect when it’s simply about fawning over a man of wealth. Just own it. You’re no sage or man of the people,” Gonsalves wrote.
Ackman didn’t respond to Golsalves’s final post in the lengthy exchange shared Tuesday evening.
The Post has sought comment from Gonsalves.
Harvard President Claudine Gay announced her resignation on Tuesday, marking the finale of her six-month tenure that ended in weeks of controversy over campus politics and her own academic record.
Calls for Gay to step down from her role at the prestigious college started in the fall, when she would not condemn over 30 Harvard student groups that published a letter holding Israel “entirely responsible” for Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack.
She then appeared before Congress on Dec. 5, where she refused to say that anyone calling for the genocide of Jews at the university would be punished.
Gay, 53, was then slapped with more than 50 allegations of plagiarism in her own academic work while she was a student at Harvard.
Ackman has notoriously been a vocal critic of Gay’s, penning three open letters to his alma mater — on Nov. 4, Dec. 3, and Dec. 10 — since Gay stood by the 30-plus student groups behind the controversial letter that ultimately led to the school losing a reported $1 billion in donations.
In each of the messages, Ackman bashed Gay’s leadership, blaming her “failure to condemn the most vile and barbaric terrorism the world has ever seen” for interfering with the school’s operations and leaving “Jewish students, faculty and others …fearful for their own safety.”
In the wake of Gay’s resignation, Jewish organizations and Harvard students alike have reportedly celebrated.
The Harvard Jewish Alumni Alliance, which represents thousands of former Jewish students, said Gay’s resignation concluded “an unfortunate chapter” in the prestigious Ivy League school’s near-400-year history.
“In her repeated failures to condemn calls for complete and utter obliteration of Jews, Claudine Gay tacitly encouraged those who sought to spread hate at Harvard, where many Jews no longer feel safe to study, identify, and fully participate in the Harvard community,” spokesperson Roni Brunn said in a statement.
Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a Jewish activist who served 15 years as a trustee on the City University of New York’s governing board, had a more wry take, saying Gay’s resignation only came after numerous plagiarism accusations rather than “not for calling out the chanting of genocide to Jews by protesters at her campus.”
“It’s kind of like they didn’t get Al Capone for murder. They got him for tax evasion,” Wiesenfeld told The Post on Tuesday in reference to the notorious gangster.
Harvard’s provost, Dr. Alan Garber, will serve as interim president, the university announced. Gay, a Political Science professor since 2006, will remain a faculty member.