Rick Snyder withdraws from Harvard fellowship

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is turning down a Harvard research fellowship amid public backlash over the university choosing the governor, who was widely criticized for his handling of the Flint, Mich., water crisis. 

Snyder tweeted Wednesday that he notified the Harvard Kennedy School of his decision. 

"It would have been exciting to share my experiences, both positive and negative; our current political environment and its lack of civility makes this too disruptive," Snyder tweeted. "I wish them the best."

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Doug Elmendorf, dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, confirmed Snyder has withdrawn from the fellowship. 
 
"I believe the Kennedy School needs to study both failures and successes of government, and we anticipated that students would have learned from engaging with and questioning Governor Snyder about his consequential role in decisions regarding Flint and many other issues during his eight years in office," Elmendorf said. "We appreciate Governor Snyder’s interest in participating in such discussions in our community, but we and he now believe that having him on campus would not enhance education here in the ways we intended."
 
He added that he has been "deeply moved my the personal and thoughtful messages" he received from Flint residents. 
 
Elmendorf said the school will continue to search for ways to address failures of government in Flint and elsewhere. 

Harvard was criticized last week after it announced Snyder would be a fellow. 

Mari Copeny, the 11-year-old known as "Little Miss Flint" who gained attention after writing to former President Obama and convincing him to visit the town, led the call against the school on Twitter with the hashtag "#NoSnyderFellowship."

“Harvard has to be smarter than this #NoSnyderFellowship #SnyderForPrison #FlintWaterCrisis," Copeny tweeted. 

Others joined in with the hashtag, criticizing the university's appointment. 

In its announcement, Jeffrey Liebman, a Harvard professor and director of the school’s Taubman Center for State and Local Government, where Snyder was appointed, said Snyder would bring "tremendous value to us and our students.”

“Governor Snyder brings his significant expertise in management, public policy, and promoting civility to Harvard Kennedy School,” Liebman had said.