'Building anew': Truth-seeking academics band together to establish a different kind of college
The University of Austin is a brand new school that is founded as an alternative to the typical American college.
UATX will host graduate and undergraduate programs that all prioritize truth-seeking.
Former university presidents, professors, historians, philosophers, writers, and more have teamed up to create a new university dedicated to the preservation of free inquiry. The University of Austin, abbreviated UATX, will use a faculty-driven educational model to provide a unique college experience, free of cancel culture.
Pano Kanelos, who left his post as president of St. John’s College to help establish the new university, announced its establishment in Common Sense with Bari Weiss. He writes, “We are done waiting for the legacy universities to right themselves. And so we are building anew.”
UATX will launch next year with a summer program designed for current students at other universities. Called “Forbidden Courses,” the program will include “spirited discussion about the most provocative questions that often lead to censorship or self-censorship in many universities,” according to the school's website.
Next fall, the school will begin its first cohort of a graduate program in entrepreneurship and leadership. UATX plans to launch masters programs in Politics & Applied History and Education & Public Service in 2023, with more degree programs to follow in later years. An undergraduate residential college will open its doors in the fall of 2024.
UATX bills itself as "dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth" and a return to the style of in-person university education that on which Western higher education has historically been predicated. The school says it will keep tuition costs low by “focus[ing] [its] resources intensively on academics, rather than amenities," though specific tuition costs have not been announced.
Even the admissions process at UATX will be different from that of a typical university. Niall Ferguson, a Hoover Institution historian who also serves on university's Board of Advisors, writes in Bloomberg that UATX faculty will have “one unusual obligation…to conduct the admissions process by means of an examination that they will set and grade. Admissions will be based primarily on performance on the exam.” He continues, “That will avoid the corrupt rackets run by so many elite admissions offices today.”
Several notable academics and writers serve on the university’s Board of Advisors, including authors Bari Weiss and Andrew Sullivan, Harvard evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker, Harvard president emeritus Larry Summers, and West Virginia University president E. Gordon Gee.
The website also lists three Founding Faculty Fellows, who will design program curricula and teach courses: former University of Sussex professor Kathleen Stock, Hoover Institution research fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and former Portland State University philosophy professor Peter Boghossian. Stock and Boghossian both resigned their professorships this fall, citing intolerance from colleagues and administrators as what forced them out.
Boghossian recently told Campus Reform that the answer to illiberalism on college campuses is “build parallel institutions.” UATX is one such institution, and Boghossian tweeted that many faculty members at other colleges have approached him about working at the new college:
Since the announcement of @uaustinorg 5 hours ago, I’ve received dozens of pleading emails from faculty around the country that boil down to:
UATX looks amazing. Please help me get out of my university. I can’t take the madness. I’ll work for a fraction of what I’m making now.
— Peter Boghossian (@peterboghossian) November 8, 2021
UATX did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication. This piece will be updated in the event of a response.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito