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The advisory board of the University of Austin has lost two of members: Robert Zimmer, chancellor and former president of the University of Chicago, and Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard University.
The university said, “The University of Austin is just one week old and has thus far succeeded in generating huge public interest. Yet, as is often the case with fast-moving start-ups, there were some missteps. In particular, our website initially failed to make clear the distinction between the Founding Trustees and the Advisory Board. Although we moved swiftly to correct this mistake, it conflated advisors, who were aligned in general with the project but not necessarily in agreement with all its actions and statements, and those who had originated the project and bear responsibility for those things. This led to unnecessary complications for several members of the advisory board, including Robert Zimmer and Steven Pinker, for which we are deeply sorry. We fully understand their decisions to step down as advisors.”
Zimmer issued a statement: “This board had no fiduciary, oversight or management responsibilities. While the new organization’s commitment to a liberal arts education and free expression reflects topics that are very important to me, I resigned from the Advisory Board on November 11, noting that the new university made a number of statements about higher education in general, largely quite critical, that diverged very significantly from my own views.”
Pinker wrote on Twitter, “By mutual & amicable agreement, I’m stepping off the Board of Advisors of U of Austin #UATX, wishing them well. I’m concentrating on Rationality (the book) and Think With Pinker (the BBC radio & podcast series) & won’t be speaking on this further.”