How disagreement makes our scholarship stronger

How disagreement makes our scholarship stronger

Inside the appointment of Marc Short as a Miller Center senior fellow

The Miller Center's decision to appoint Marc Short, President Trump's former director of legislative affairs, to a one-year senior fellowship has triggered controversy inside the Miller Center, within the University of Virginia, and beyond. Some believe Short can provide insights about the Trump presidency that would otherwise be unavailable. Others argue that this administration is not just disruptive but is, in fact, dangerous—and appointing Short as a senior fellow sends the wrong message. 

Internally, the appointment sparked a robust debate and the resignations of two University of Virginia history professors, who ended their affiliations with the Miller Center to return to their full-time positions in the UVA history department.

The ongoing internal debate and discussion is helping us hone our approach to our own scholarship. It's an opportunity for a broader conversation about big-picture questions: What does it really mean to be nonpartisan? What will it look like to study the Trump presidency, as unprecedented and divisive as it is? How can we learn from this controversy and use it to foster and enrich the type of civil discourse that is the cornerstone of our mission?

As an organization committed to the clear-eyed, nonpartisan study of the U.S. presidency, the Miller Center believes that this same objectivity should be applied to the controversy itself. We believe that rigorous yet respectful discussion—no matter how controversial or laden with emotion—is crucial for a healthy democracy.

In that spirit, here is a collection of op-eds and news stories examining the Short appointment from a variety of perspectives.

Rationale for the appointment

Miller Center Director and CEO William Antholis announced the Short appointment in a news release on July 12. He then elaborated on his reasoning in an open letter issued on July 27 that was republished in the Washington Post. "This appointment is squarely in our core work of studying the presidency," Antholis wrote. "Marc’s experience and expertise only strengthen our ability to understand and explain this administration, including in its most difficult and divisive moments."

The Miller Center's Governing Council supported the Short appointment in a Letter from the Miller Center Governing Council on August 3.


The University of Virginia hired a Trump staffer days before the Charlottesville anniversary and, as an alum, I'm okay with that, The Root, July 20

Editorial: UVA's Miller Center catches grief for defending academic integrity, Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 23

Opinion/editorial: Right or wrong, controversy was predictable, The Daily Progress, July 25

Never has our work been more important than now': UVA leader defends hiring of outgoing Trump official, The Washington Post, William J. Antholis, July 27

Ex-Trump staffers should not get plum jobs at elite universities, Vox, Nicole Hemmer, July 30

Two Historians Resigned Over the Appointment of a Trump Flunky at UVA. They Were Right to Do So., Slate, July 30

UVA's appointment of ex-Trump aide advances academic integrity, Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 30

Why an ex-Trump aide doesn't belong as a university fellow, CNN, Brian Balogh, July 31

We quit our UVA history center because it hired an enabler of Trump's anti-truth, The Washington Post, William Hitchcock and Melvyn Leffler, July 31 

In defense of Marc Short, Academe Blog, July 31

The baseless attack on Marc Short, National Review, August 1

It's true: Trump is lying more, and he's doing it on purpose, The New Yorker, August 3

It's Got Nothing to Do with Free Speech: Universities Should Not Hire Members of the Trump Administration, Paste, August 9

How should universities handle the Trump administration?, The Boston Globe, August 13

Just say no to hard and fast rules about Trump appointees being at universities, The Washington Post, August 15

Editorial: U.Va. official bravely defends diversity, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, October 4

News coverage

Trump staffer to join Miller Center, The Daily Progress, July 12

Objections erupt at UVA over appointment of top Trump aide, POLITICO, July 19

As grim anniversary nears, UVA faculty members protest appointment of former Trump official, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 20

From Trumptown to UVA, Inside Higher Ed, July 20

Hire of departing Trump official by UVA draws ire of professors and students, The Washington Post, July 20

Petition circulated to bar Trump aide's hiring at Miller Center, The Daily Progress, July 20

Marc Short's hiring at University of Virginia protested by faculty, students, Fox News, July 20

University of Virginia center defends hiring of former Trump official, over faculty resistance, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 27

Miller Center director defends addition of ex-Trump official, The Daily Progress, July 27

Hiring of former Trump aide at UVA prompts two historians to quit, POLITICO, July 30

Two University of Virginia historians leave policy center posts over former Trump aide's hiring, The Hill, July 30

Short's new CNN gig provokes right wing ire, CBS19 News, July 31

Is UVa. drama a warning to Trump officials looking for new gigs?, POLITICO, July 31

New UVA president supports appointment of controversial former Trump aide to campus center, The Washington Post, August 1

On first day, Ryan says he'll focus on community, discovery, and service, The Daily Progress, August 1

On UVA’s Miller Center appointment of Marc Short as a senior fellow | William Antholis, WINA, August 2

Efforts to blacklist conservatives at UVA persists, Trump aide hiring defended, The Washington Examiner, August 3

Historian On Think Tank Resignation Over Former Trump Official's Hiring, NPR, August 4

UVa think tank plans a high profile for former Trump aide, POLITICO, August 7

Miller Center to pay Marc Short $48,000 for one-year tenure, The Cavalier Daily, August 7

Former White House Director Of Legislative Affairs Discusses New Job At UVA, NPR All Things Considered, August 17

Short expected to plan events, draw GOP voices to Miller Center, The Daily Progress, August 25