A controversial research center in the Middle East that came under fire from students at Harvard University this year has apparently closed, but neither the students nor the university considers a related dispute over a $2.5-million gift settled.
The students said the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up, in the United Arab Emirates, was anti-Semitic and anti-American. They demanded that the university return the money, which was given by the president of the Persian Gulf country, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan, who they said sponsored the center. President Zayed donated the money to Harvard Divinity School in 2000 to create a professorship in Islamic religious studies, but the position has not yet been filled.
The center closed because the president withdrew his support, said an official at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates here who did not want to be identified. The Boston Globe and a variety of Arab news outlets have made similar reports this week, citing anonymous diplomats.
The center's Web site now proclaims, "This site has been stopped."
Harvard University officials said that's not good enough. The university needs an official announcement from the United Arab Emirates, said Lucie McNeil, a university spokeswoman. Harvard has not decided whether to return the money.
Rachel Fish, who started the campaign to persuade Harvard to return the gift, is not backing down.
"If the U.A.E. is not going to host or fund it, they need to publicly state that," said Ms. Fish, who graduated from the divinity school this year. "Even then, it's important to remember that Zayed has many human-rights grievances against him, which Harvard should be considering."