“We’re done waiting for America’s universities to fix themselves.”
- All-star higher education critics such as former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, Harvard academic Steven Pinker, former Harvard University president Lawrence H. Summers, and playwright David Mamet have launched a new liberal arts university to counter what its founders believe is a growing culture of censorship on college campuses, reports The Texas Tribune.
- “We’re done waiting for America’s universities to fix themselves,” states a promotional video for The University of Austin (UATX) posted on Twitter Monday morning. “So we’re starting a new one.”
- “Universities devoted to the unfettered pursuit of truth are the cornerstone of a free and ﬂourishing democratic society,” reads the UATX website.
- “For universities to serve their purpose, they must be fully committed to freedom of inquiry, freedom of conscience, and civil discourse,” it goes on to say, adding, “In order to maintain these principles, UATX will be ﬁercely independent—ﬁnancially, intellectually, and politically.”
- The university’s leaders are in the process of acquiring land in the Austin area, developing degree programs (undergrad program estimated to arrive in the fall of 2024), and seeking accreditation, notes the Tribune.
- In addition to offering a new curriculum, UATX boasts its “novel” financial model that lowers tuition for students and avoids “costly administrative excess and overreach.”
A COMMITMENT TO FREEDOM OF INQUIRY:
- The University of Austin promises to restore the place of “freedom of inquiry and civil discourse” in higher education.
- “Our students and faculty will confront the most vexing questions of human life and civil society,” another UATX page reads.
- “We will create a community of conversation grounded in intellectual humility that respects the dignity of each individual and cultivates a passion for truth.”
A NEW FINANCIAL MODEL:
- UATX aims to redesign how universities operate by “developing a novel financial model.”
- “We will lower tuition by avoiding costly administrative excess and overreach,” the site reads.
- “We will focus our resources intensively on academics, rather than amenities.”
- “We will align institutional incentives with student outcomes.”
AN INNOVATIVE CURRICULUM:
- “Our curriculum is being designed in partnership not only with the world’s great thinkers but also with its great doers—visionaries who have founded bold ventures, artists and writers of the highest order, pioneers in tech, and the leading lights in engineering and the natural sciences.”
- “Students will apply their foundational skills to practical problems in ﬁelds such as entrepreneurship, public policy, education, and engineering,” the site goes on reading.
CONSERVATIVE MEDIA PRAISE FOR UATX:
- One Washington Examiner publication referred to the creation of UATX as “The best news in academia in a long, long time.”
- “Put another way, the new University of Austin will stand against ‘cancel culture,’ speech codes, leftist indoctrination, ‘safe spaces’ for students who can’t bear opinions different from their own, obsessions with race and sex to the exclusion of substance, racial preferences in admissions, and hugely expensive administrative staffs,” the piece goes on to say. “True open-mindedness, not ideological straitjackets, will be the norm.”
- “One might say this will be a campus where scholars will be open to questions and to questing, to discussion without repercussion, not because those scholars fear they are wrong but because they always strive to be more right. The humility to acknowledge human fallibility, including one’s own, is a necessary predicate for advancing and increasing knowledge rather than just regurgitating it.”
- “[A]nyone who doesn’t welcome this broad-minded, cross-ideological entry into U.S. higher education has no real love of learning. The new University of Austin is a grand experiment worthy of universal applause,” the piece concludes.
- Conservative radio host Glenn Beck tweeted the UATX founding is “the best news I’ve heard in 20 years.”
Jon Fleetwood is Managing Editor for American Faith and author of “An American Revival: Why American Christianity Is Failing & How to Fix It.”