Two University of Virginia history professors have resigned from the school’s Miller Center for Public Affairs after it hired Marc Short, a former Trump aide.
Professors William I. Hitchcock and Melvyn P. Leffler said the hiring of Short, who was the White House director of legislative and intergovernmental affairs, violated the Miller Center’s values “to hire such a notoriously partisan political appointee as a paid distinguished fellow,” especially without input from faculty.
“Your decision was made without adequate faculty discussion, deliberation, and a vote. The practice of faculty governance did not prevail,” Hitchcock and Leffler said in their resignation letter.
Hitchcock and Leffler will continue to be tenured faculty at the university, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
After the news, 150 UVA faculty and students signed a petition calling for the university to revoke the hiring of Short. An identical Change.org petition has also garnered more than 3,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.
“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.”
Leffler and Hitchcock were among those who signed the petition.
Faculty and students also criticized Trump’s handling of the aftermath of a white nationalist demonstration in Charlottesville that turned deadly when a man rammed his car through a group of people protesting the white supremacists, killing one woman.
Trump initially blamed the violence “on many sides,” but two days later, he disavowed racists while speaking from the White House. He later returned to blaming “both sides” for the deadly attack, however.
"It is unconscionable that we would add to our university a person who served in a high-level position for the administration that first empowered, then defended, those white nationalists," the petition states.
“We are a community still in the process of healing, and someone who defended the president’s remarks after the violence here is a barrier to that process, a source of trauma in a still-traumatized community,” the petition continued.
Short told Politico he is “sympathetic to the pain in the community.”
“I think we could have done a better job expressing sympathy for the victims and outrage at those who perpetrated this evil,” he said.
The two history professors told the Chronicle of Higher Education that they believe Short should be able to speak at the center but objected to his hiring.
A spokesman for the Miller Center said it was “committed to nonpartisan and bipartisan study of the president.”
“The addition of Marc Short, a senior Trump Administration official with intimate knowledge of interactions between the White House and Congress, deepens our scholarly inquiries into the workings of the American presidency,” Howard Witt, director of communications for the Miller Center, previously told Fox News. “And his presence reinforces our commitment to nonpartisan and bipartisan dialogue among scholars and practitioners of good will who may nevertheless hold strongly opposing personal political viewpoints.”
“Moreover, Short can offer insights into the Trump Administration that are not currently available to our scholars or the public at large,” Witt added.
Short’s last day at the White House was July 20. He is supposed to begin at the university in August.