The University of Austin, founded by and stocked with national conservative figures, has received approval from the state of Texas to grant degrees and will begin accepting applicants for fall 2024, according to an announcement Wednesday.
“We’ll give you an intellectual environment focused on the free exploration of ideas, not self-censorship,” declared a video announcement posted to the social media platform X.
Plans for the University of Austin were announced in fall 2021 in the Substack newsletter of conservative writer Bari Weiss, who is listed on the fledgling institution’s Board of Trustees. At the time, President Pano Kanelos declared that universities had failed in their mission and that UATX, as it is known, would be “dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth.”
UATX officials told The Texas Tribune the university has raised $200 million so far.
A number of prominent conservatives and controversial academics are affiliated with the university. In addition to Weiss, they include evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins; Dorian Abbot, a University of Chicago geophysics professor and outspoken critic of diversity, equity and inclusion programs; Joshua Katz, who was fired from Princeton University over a relationship with a student; and Hillsdale College history professor Wilfred McClay, who contributed to the widely panned “1776 Report” commissioned by the Trump administration.
Other mainstream academics—including former Harvard University president Lawrence Summers and E. Gordon Gee, current president of West Virginia University—are UATX advisers.
While the state has extended UATX degree-granting authority, the university is not yet accredited. Its website notes that it is currently in the process of seeking accreditation.