Two history professors at the University of Virginia have resigned from their positions at a school-affiliated public policy center in protest of its recent hiring of former Trump official Marc Short.
William I. Hitchcock and Melvyn P. Leffler penned an op-ed for The Washington Post published Tuesday morning that explained their decision to step down from the university’s Miller Center after it appointed Marc Short, the former White House legislative director, to a paid senior fellowship position.
They argued that hiring Mr. Short to help students understand the Trump presidency “is like welcoming H.R. Haldeman into your university at the height of Watergate and asking him for insights into Nixon. Sure, he knows a thing or two. But is he a trustworthy guide?”
The professors said that while they’ve been committed to nonpartisanship over the years and have always been willing to engage with policymakers with whom they disagree, President Trump and his administration don’t deserve that same respect.
“The Trump presidency has taken the country into uncharted waters, and it has presented an especially tough challenge for scholars,” the wrote. “By breaking the norms of presidential behavior, by upending the rules of civil discourse, by casting doubt on the meaning of truth and by embracing the rhetoric of racism and white supremacy, Trump has departed sharply from recent historical precedents.”
The professors slammed Mr. Short as a “loyal mouthpiece” to Mr. Trump and a “foot soldier in this destructive presidency,” deeming him untrustworthy in an academic position.
The resignations come on the heels of a petition in the U.Va. community, signed by more than 3,000 as of Tuesday morning, that called on the Miller Center to reverse Mr. Short’s appointment.
William Antholis, the center’s director, defended the appointment in a statement, saying service in the Trump administration “should not be a bar to service” at the university or the Miller Center.
He told ABC News that he “understands the frustrations people feel” about the Trump administration, but hopes to give Mr. Short the “opportunity to help us understand the presidency better.”
“I made a judgment on [Mr. Short]. His beliefs fall within the legitimate bounds of political discourse. I would hate to judge someone based on prior service in a presidential administration,” he said, noting that he himself previously served in the Clinton administration and would “hate to be judged for it,” ABC News reported.
Mr. Short told The Washington Post that he was disappointed in the opposition to his hiring.
“There is an irony at Thomas Jefferson’s university that professors are seeking to silence debate instead of fostering civil conversation,” he said.
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