Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) pulled out of his research fellowship at Harvard on Wednesday after critics slammed the university for granting prestige to the same governor who has been widely criticized for the infamous water crisis in Flint.
TPM obtained a copy of the memo Professor Doug Elmendorf, the dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, sent to faculty and students informing them of Snyder’s decision.
“I believe the Kennedy School needs to study both failures and successes of government, and we anticipated that students would have learned from engaging with and questioning Governor Snyder about his consequential role in decisions regarding Flint and many other issues during his eight years in office,” Elmendorf wrote.
“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,” he continued.
Harvard’s initial post announcing Snyder’s fellowship did not mention Flint. However, it did quote Professor Jeffrey Liebman, the Taubman Center director at the Kennedy School, as praising Snyder’s “significant expertise in management, public policy, and promoting civility.”
In fact, Snyder bemoaned “lack of civility” when he announced his decision to withdraw via Twitter.
“I have informed the HKennedy Sch that I am turning down its offer as Snr Res Fellow,” Snyder tweeted. “It would have been exciting to share my experiences, both positive and negative; our current political environment and its lack of civility makes this too disruptive.”
I have informed the HKennedy Sch that I am turning down its offer as Snr Res Fellow. It would have been exciting to share my experiences, both positive and negative; our current political environment and its lack of civility makes this too disruptive. I wish them the best.
— Rick Snyder (@onetoughnerd) July 3, 2019
The former governor is being sued for his role in the 2014 Flint water crisis, which led to thousands of cases of lead poisoning from the city’s water supply. More than a dozen Michigan officials have been slapped with criminal charges over the disaster.
The former governor was slated to begin his fellowship on Monday.