Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) is rejecting a Harvard research grant amid a public reaction against the university that chooses the governor, who has been widely criticized for his management of Flint, Michigan, water crisis.
Snyder tweeted on Wednesday that he informed Harvard Kennedy School of his decision.
"It would have been exciting to share my experiences, both positive and negative, our current political environment and its lack of civilization make this too disruptive," wrote Snyder. "I wish them the best."
I informed HKennedy Sch that I am rejecting her offer as a Snr Res Fellow. It would have been exciting to share my experiences, both positive and negative; our current political context and its lack of civilization make this too disruptive. I wish him the best.
– Rick Snyder (@onetoughnerd) 3 July 2019
Doug Elmendorf, dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, confirmed that Snyder retired from the company.
"I believe the Kennedy School needs to study both the failures and the successes of the government, and we anticipated that the students would learn from engaging and questioning Governor Snyder about his consequential role in decisions regarding Flint and many other problems during his eight years in office, "said Elmendorf. "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 improve education here in the ways we intended."
He added that he was "deeply moved by my personal and reflective messages" received by Flint residents.
Elmendorf said the school will continue to look for ways to deal with government failures in Flint and elsewhere.
Harvard was criticized last week after announcing that Snyder would be a companion.
Mari Copeny, the 11-year-old girl known as "Little Miss Flint" who attracted attention after writing to former President Obama and persuading him to visit the city, led the invitation against the school on Twitter with the "#NoSnyderFellowship" hashtag.
"Harvard must be smarter than this #NoSnyderFellowship #SnyderForPrison #FlintWaterCrisis", Copeny wrote.
Others have adhered to the hashtag, criticizing the appointment of the university.
In his announcement, Jeffrey Liebman, a Harvard professor and director of the school's Taubman Center for State and Local Government, where he was named Snyder, said Snyder would bring "extraordinary value for us and our students".
"Governor Snyder brings his significant experience in management, public policy and the promotion of civilization at the Harvard Kennedy School," Liebman had said.
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