Two University of Virginia historians leave policy center posts over former Trump aide's hiring

Two University of Virginia historians leave policy center posts over former Trump aide's hiring
© Greg Nash

Two top historians are resigning from their roles at a public policy center at the University of Virginia, citing its hiring of a former aide to President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE for the decision. 

William Hitchcock and Melvyn Leffler made the announcement on Monday in protest of the university's decision to grant a "senior fellowship" to former Trump legislative affairs director Marc Short.

The two are leaving their posts at the Miller Center, a wing of the Charlottesville, Va.-based university that is focused on presidential history and public policy. They will remain as tenured faculty within the university's history department, according to Politico

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"The appointment of Mr. Short runs counter to the Center’s fundamental values of non-partisanship, transparency, openness, a passion for truth and objectivity, and civility," the two historians wrote in a resignation letter, before noting many of the issues they have with the former Trump aide.

Chief among those issues is Short's response to the white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville almost a year ago. The two historians slammed Short for not distancing himself from Trump's response to the event, which erupted in violence and led to the death of a 32-year-old woman.

"It seems especially egregious to appoint Mr. Short as we approach the one-year anniversary of the neo-Nazi riots," the two wrote. "In the wake of those tragic events, President Trump failed to repudiate the alt-right and its street thugs. Until his appointment to a fellowship at UVA, Mr. Short did not distance himself from President Trump’s remarks.

"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 two also note that the decision to hire short was made without "adequate faculty discussion, deliberation, and a vote."

The resignations come as the university faces increasing scrutiny over its hiring of Short. An online petition to stop the school from hiring Short had over 2,300 signatures as of Monday morning.

The director and CEO of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, William Antholis, has defended Short's hiring. He said last week that 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."

Short announced earlier this month that he would step down from his role in the Trump administration. He served under Trump since January 2017.