Mr. Rowan and Mr. Lauder did not attend the fund-raiser, but the event’s organizer — Andrew Sabin, a New Yorker who made a fortune in metal recycling — said that the sponsors shared an opposition to antisemitism and are hoping to pressure Congress to remove federal funding and the tax-exempt status of some universities.
A separate investigation by the House Ways and Means Committee has questioned whether campus antisemitism jeopardizes the nonprofit status of Penn as well as Cornell, Harvard, and M.I.T.
“We’ve got a very, very aggressive path forward,” said Mr. Sabin, who did not attend Penn.
Some professors at the university say the attack on Penn is part of a conservative effort, begun by governors like Ron DeSantis of Florida, to overhaul American higher education — an effort that is now spreading to dozens of universities. including Penn, Harvard and Columbia, which are now under investigation by the federal government over reports of antisemitism.
“This is an anti-democratic attack unfolding, not just at Penn, but all across the country, including at public universities in Florida, in Texas, Ohio and beyond,” said Dr. Offner, the president of the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, a professional faculty organization.
Penn, she said, had become “ground zero of a coordinated national assault on higher education, an assault organized by billionaires, lobbying organizations, and politicians who would like to control what can be studied and taught in the United States.”