by WorldTribune Staff, August 5, 2018
The University of Virginia’s prestigious Miller Center has hired a former Trump administration official despite protesters who accused the official of being “complicit in the erosion of our civic discourse.”
“For the second time in seven days, the University of Virginia has pushed back against critics of the hiring of President Trump’s former legislative chief and an effort to blacklist conservatives from the school founded by former President Thomas Jefferson,” Paul Bedard noted in an Aug. 3 report for the Washington Examiner.
UVA’s Miller Center, a nonpartisan affiliate that specializes in presidential scholarship, appointed former Trump administration Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short as a senior Miller Center fellow.
After the announcement that Short was selected for the position, 150 UVA faculty and students signed a petition calling for the university to revoke the hiring of Short. An identical Change.org petition had more than 3,000 signatures.
“While we do not object to dialogue with members of this administration, we do object to the use of our university to clean up their tarnished reputations,” the petition read. “No one should be serving at the highest levels of this administration, daily supporting and defending its actions one week, then representing UVA the next.”
Alice Handy, chair of the Miller Center Council, said that “While the current administration certainly has created a fair amount of controversy, and despite the intense response to this appointment from both sides, we support the decision to bring Marc Short on as a senior fellow at the Center and feel he will bring valuable insights to our work.”
Professors William Hitchcock and Melvyn Leffler resigned from the Miller Center in protest. They remain tenured faculty in the university’s history department.
In their resignation letter, Hitchcock and Leffler criticized Short for not distancing himself from President Donald Trump’s response to the August 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
“By not speaking out at the time, by not emphasizing the threats to human decency posed by the public display of Nazi symbols and racist diatribes in our own neighborhood, Mr. Short was complicit in the erosion of our civic discourse and showed an appalling indifference to the civility of our own city and university,” the professors wrote.
William Antholis, director and CEO of the Miller Center, said in a statement that “the loss of any Miller Center faculty or staff member saddens me.”
“As much as I respect the depth of feelings on this issue, the Miller Center’s core focus on the presidency, our commitment to nonpartisanship and our demonstrated ability to promote civil discourse must remain our principal responsibility, especially in trying times,” Antholis said.
Antholis said Short “brings a missing critical voice – one that represents members of Congress and the Republican Party who continue to support the president in large numbers.”
Handy said that in siding with Short the Miller Center is also upholding its belief in free and diverse speech.
“Marc joins a list of other practitioners, from both Democratic and Republican administrations, who form a critical bridge for our scholars to the policy-making community, and vice versa. The balance of fellows from ‘both sides of the aisle’ is no accident, as it is important to our mission,” Handy said.