A new university dedicated to academic diversity and freedom of thought is in the process of being founded. Professors, writers, entrepreneurs, and university administrators are working together to build this new university. The school will be based in Austin, Texas, and named the University of Austin (UATX).
On Monday, Joe Lonsdale introduced the new university in an op-ed for the New York Post. Lonsdale is the co-founder of Palantir Technologies and a venture capitalist. Lonsdale acknowledged that U.S. universities have drastically declined from the achievements made during the 20th century.
He wrote, “Our universities drove scientific progress, pursued truth, and cultivated an intellectually courageous and competent elite. They helped make the United States the most innovative, prosperous, and powerful nation in history. But today, our universities are failing to live up to that legacy.”
Lonsdale argues that the universities have greatly fallen because of two factors.
The first is that scholars can close their work off from scrutiny from others. He argues that specialization has evolved into hyperspecialization. The schools abandoned enlightenment in favor of “uniformity of viewpoint.”
The second reason is the intolerance and cancellation of differing viewpoints.
“We can, today, found a university that will prepare a new generation of leaders to think for themselves about all sides of an issue, speak truth to power, and take power back from ideologues.”
The incoming president of the University of Austin is Pano Kanelos. Kanelos was the former president of St. John’s College, a private school focused on Western Civilization. Kanelos said about UATX, “The university will be focused on the intrepid pursuit of truth and exposing students to the deepest wisdom of civilization.”
The university’s board includes several prominent figures in academia.
This includes Niall Ferguson, Historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University; Harvard Psychologist Steven Pinker; New York Law School Professor and Former ACLU President Nadine Strossen; NYU Social Psychologist Jonathan Haidt; Harvard University President Emeritus Larry Summers; and former New York Times columnists Bari Weiss.
The initial faculty members are former Portland State philosophy professor Peter Boghossian and Hoover Institution Research Fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
UATX is currently in the process of securing land for the physical location. When asked why the school chose Austin, the founders stated, “Texas is seeing an increase in talent and capital and the city is “a hub for builders, mavericks, and creators. If it’s good enough for Elon Musk and Joe Rogan, it’s good enough for us.”
The school will launch its flagship course, “Forbidden Courses,” in summer 2022. In 2022 and 2023, they plan to launch their M.A. programs in Politics, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership. They hope to launch a complete undergraduate program with accreditation by 2024.
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