Fmr. GOP gov. withdraws from Harvard fellowship after students, profs throw a fit

  • Former Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder withdrew from a Harvard research fellowship after the university received backlash for offering him a job.
  • Snyder’s administration became embroiled in the Flint water crisis, and his desire was for students to “study both failures and successes of government” to learn from the situation.
  • Snyder received fierce backlash, despite repeated apologies.

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) withdrew from a Harvard fellowship position, citing a “lack of civility” in the school’s political climate.

Snyder withdrew earlier this month, after Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government received backlash for offering him a senior research fellowship position, according to the Harvard Crimson.

"Lack of civility"   

“People [were] speaking truth to power and holding Snyder accountable for the myriad problems he and his corporate donors created for Michigan and communities across this state,” Lonnie Scott, executive director of the Progress Michigan liberal advocacy group, said. 

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“It’s good to see that the implications of the crimes committed against Flint residents are being acknowledged,” Harvard graduate Adam Joseph said, according to the Associated Press

Snyder’s administration became embroiled by the Flint water crisis, in which officials switched Flint’s drinking supply from the Detroit system to the Flint River in an effort to reduce spending. This ultimately exposed many residents to contaminated water. 

The Department of Environmental Quality director in Michigan, Dan Wyant, resigned as a result, and Snyder accepted his resignation, according to AP News.

“I want the Flint community to know how very sorry I am that this has happened,” Snyder noted back in 2015 after the incident occurred. “And I want all Michigan citizens to know that we will learn from this experience because Flint is not the only city that has an aging infrastructure.” 

Snyder said that the incident was the result of "failures at all levels of government," according to Politico

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The former governor's comments regarding the potential fellowship suggest that he wanted to educate others of his mistakes regarding the Flint water crisis. Snyder planned to teach courses, speak at campus events, and hold office hours to promote dialogue and discussion with students.

“It would have been exciting to share my experiences, both positive and negative,” Snyder said. “I wish them the best.”

The former governor ultimately believes that the political climate has a “lack of civility” that makes his desire for reflection “too disruptive.”

Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf wrote an email to members of the Harvard community addressing the complaints about Snyder.

“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," Elmendorf wrote, according to the Harvard Crimson

The news comes just weeks after Harvard terminated a law professor as a faculty dean upon learning that he agreed to represent the disgraced Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein in his criminal trial. 

"In America, everyone is entitled to a defense, in America, everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and in America, everyone is entitled to due process of law under our Constitution," the former dean said in a video blasting the Ivy League school.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ethanycai



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Ethan Cai
Ethan Cai | New Hampshire Campus Correspondent

Ethan Cai is a New Hampshire Campus Correspondent and reports on liberal bias and abuse. He is a Freshman at Dartmouth College studying Quantitative Government Analysis with a minor in Economics.

20 Articles by Ethan Cai