FILE - Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie (Steve Helber/AP)

Former Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie is headed to Harvard, where he'll be a resident fellow this spring at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Stung by an unexpectedly large 9-point loss to Democrat Ralph Northam in last fall's election, Gillespie has mostly stayed out of the limelight in recent weeks. The campaign for governor turned ugly toward the end, with Gillespie airing ads raising fears of Hispanic street gangs and suggesting that Northam would coddle criminal immigrants and even child molesters.

In his only extended interview since the election, Gillespie told Democratic strategist David Axelrod on his podcast that he would not encourage others to run for office these days because of a "poisonous" political atmosphere.

Since then, though, Gillespie has reached out to Northam, and both men have praised one another's character and principles. At a prayer breakfast last week, just days before being sworn in as Virginia's 73rd governor, Northam read a prayer for peace and success that Gillespie had sent him during the Christmas holidays.

At Harvard, Gillespie will be one of six fellows for the spring term who will "regularly interact with students, develop and lead weekly study groups, collaborate with other IOP programs, and participate in the intellectual and social life of the Harvard community," according to an announcement from the school.

Joining Gillespie will be former tech executive Adam Conner; former Export-Import Bank president Fred Hochberg; former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges; Republican campaign consultant and CNN contributor Scott Jennings; and former Bernie Sanders press secretary and CNN commentator Symone Sanders.