Published September 25, 2017
A top Oxford University politics professor resigned from his academic post Monday after claiming one of the school's key patrons supported Donald Trump.
Bo Rothstein was professor and chair of government and public policy at the prestigious university's Blavatnik School of Government, named for the Ukrainian-born Jewish billionaire Leonard Blavatnik.
Blavatnik, who holds both American and British citizenship, gave Oxford the equivalent of nearly $100 million, funding the 2010 installment of a new school of government. Blavatnik's monetary gift was one of the largest donations in Oxford's 900-year history.
Following news of Rothstein’s resignation, a spokesman for Blavatnik said although the industrialist did give $1 million to the inauguration committee for Trump -- a bipartisan congressional committee charged with organizing events leading up to the inauguration -- the donation was not in support of Trump himself.
The spokesman told The Guardian that “neither Blavatnik nor any of his companies ever made a donation to the Trump presidential campaign.”
Rothstein later responded that, to him, the donation qualifies as support of Trump.
“I’m not going to be the Blavatnik chair of government and public policy because I’m not going to give legitimacy and credibility to this person,” Rothstein said, adding, “I am not fond of a political leader who says there are fine and good people in demonstrations where there are lots of Nazi and Ku Klux Klan people.”
Since leaving the Oxford position, Rothstein said he has received hundreds of messages in support of his decision. “I have not received one negative mail -- they have only been positive,” he said.
“I’ve never had so much applause in my life,” Rothstein said.
He also said that in the interim, he’s received a job offer from another top university in Berlin.
Oxford was widely criticized for accepting Blavatnik’s substantial donation. In 2015, a group of academics published an open letter imploring Oxford to “stop selling its reputation to Vladimir Putin’s associates.”
Blavatnik was named the U.K.’s wealthiest man in 2015, with a net worth estimated at the equivalent of $22 billion. He made his fortune through his company Access Industries, which bought commodity goods and businesses in Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union. His ventures now reach into real estate, film and music.