UVA Official Defends Trump Administration Hire

July 30, 2018

In an op-ed in The Washington Post Friday, the head of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for the study of the American presidency doubled down on his decision to hire Marc Short, who was until this month President Trump’s legislative affairs director. Many on campus and some within the center have opposed Short’s upcoming appointment as a senior fellow, saying that he is too close to an administration that defies presidential norms and values, and that the center's faculty had no say in the decision. Others have said that Short defended Trump’s mixed-message-style response to the white supremacist march on and ensuing violence in Charlottesville, Va., last year. Short told Inside Higher Ed that he supported Trump’s condemnation of racism and violence, issued after his earlier comment attributing the violence to “many sides.”

Short “can help Miller Center scholars better understand the Trump presidency and the challenges facing American politics,” William Antholis, center director, wrote in the op-ed. “Never has our work been more important than now.” Short “will help us think through how to capture the Trump presidency through our signature Presidential Oral History Program,” Antholis added. “In addition, he will contribute to an ongoing research undertaking and conference that will explore how the presidency, Congress, and political polarization are combining to create policy and legislative gridlock. His contributions will help keep Miller Center scholars at the cutting edge of their research field.”

Antholis also defended his decision to hire Short, saying that senior fellows are not faculty members and “are selected by the director of the center, in consultation with the director of presidential studies.” In this case, he said, “knowing the controversies surrounding President Trump and some of his appointees, I also consulted more extensively than in previous senior fellowship appointments with other senior faculty members, senior fellows, members of the center’s Governing Council, and policy professionals from both political parties.” Antholis also said that Short has read and agrees with the campus's condemnation of the events in Charlottesville.

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