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After Outcry Over His Role In Flint's Water Crisis, Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Withdraws From Harvard Post

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (Al Goldis/AP)
Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (Al Goldis/AP)

The former governor of Michigan hoped to come to Harvard's Kennedy School of Government to teach students about "public management, public policy, and promoting civility."

But after two days of blowback based on his handling of the deadly water crisis in Flint, Michigan, Rick Snyder — who left office earlier this year — has decided to withdraw.

In a tweet from his personal account, Snyder described his appointment as a casualty of a polarized political climate:

In the past few days, hundreds of tweets piled up with the hashtag #NoSnyderFellowship, and a petition pushing for Harvard to reverse itself — as it did in the case of Chelsea Manning, also once appointed a fellow — gathered nearly 7,000 signatures.

At first, Kennedy School officials defended Snyder's appointment, saying that, as a fellow, the former governor would be expected to reckon with his failures as well as talk about his successes in the private and public sector.

But ultimately, the public indignation regarding the appointment reached school leadership.

In a letter sent to the Kennedy School community Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy School Dean Doug Elmendorf said he had been "deeply moved by the personal and thoughtful messages" sent from many, especially residents of Flint — and said he had concluded that Snyder's presence "would not enhance education here in the ways we intended."

A report released last year by University of Michigan researchers found Gov. Snyder bore at least partial responsibility for the water crisis, which resulted in widespread lead poisoning and at least a dozen deaths from Legionnaires' disease.

And this spring, a federal judge found that Snyder could be held liable for those consequences by affected residents of Flint, saying that his administration "acted indifferently to the risk of harm they faced, demonstrating a callous disregard for their right to bodily integrity.

Related:

Max Larkin Twitter Reporter, Edify
Max Larkin is a multimedia reporter for Edify, WBUR's education vertical.

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