Historians resign from Miller Center in protest over Short hire

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Two distinguished historians have resigned from the University of Virginia's Miller Center in protest of the hiring of Trump White House advisor Marc Short.

"We feel that scholars have to say enough is enough," said Melvyn Leffler, Edward Stettinius Professor of History at UVA, who joined history department colleague William Hitchcock in resigning from the Center less than three weeks after Short was chosen for a one-year senior fellowship.

"Your decision was made without adequate faculty discussion, deliberation and a vote," wrote Leffler and Hitchcock in their resignation letter sent Monday to Miller Center Director William Antholis.

Leffler and Hitchcock are co-editors of the book "The Dangerous First Year: National Security at the Start of a New Presidency," and they were among several expert participants in a symposium last November titled "U.S. Presidents Confront the Russians: A Century of Challenge, 1917-2017." Both will remain on faculty at UVA.

Short, who worked on the senate campaign of Oliver North and for the Koch Brothers Freedom Partners Fund, most recently served as the Trump administration's director of legislative affairs.

In an interview Monday, Leffler said those positions and Short's work for the Trump administration disqualify him from working at the Miller Center, which describes itself as a "nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia."

"Marc Short has been a defender and facilitator of an administration that tramples the truth every day, that has no respect for objectivity and truth, and that assails the media and free speech itself," Leffler said.

The letter also accuses Short of failing to speak out after the violence of August 11 and 12 in Charlottesville and at UVA.

"Mr. Short was complicit in the erosion of our civic discourse and showed an appalling indifference to the civility of our own city and university," Leffler and Hitchcock wrote.

Short's hire prompted immediate backlash, and a petition urging the Miller Center to rescind the job offer has gathered more than 2,500 signatures from UVA faculty, students and alums.

Despite the pressure, the Miller Center's Antholis says he stands behind Short's hire.

"As much as I respect the depth of feelings on this issue, the Miller Center's core focus on the presidency, our commitment to nonpartisanship, and our demonstrated ability to promote civil discourse must remain our principal responsibility, especially in trying times," Antholis wrote in a statement on Monday responding to the resignations.

Short did not return calls requesting comment.

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