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Kathleen Stock is one of the founding faculty fellows at the University of Austin, which claims it is dedicated to “the fearless pursuit of truth”.
Pano Kanelos, former president of St John’s College in Annapolis, announced that he is joining forces with other professors who are “concerned about the state of higher education” to set up a new institution.
The University of Austin will be based in Texas, Kanelos announced in a post on Bari Weiss’ Substack. It will have “as few screens as possible” and will encourage students to see “open inquiry as a lifetime activity that demands of them a brave, sometimes discomfiting, search for enduring truths”.
In a wide-ranging article, Kanelos said higher education in America is “fractured” because “illiberalism has become a pervasive feature of campus life”.
“On our quads, faculty are being treated like thought criminals,” Kanelos wrote. The University of Austin began with “a small group” of people who were “concerned” about the state of higher education, including Niall Ferguson, Bari Weiss, Heather Heying, Joe Lonsdale, Arthur Brooks and Kanelos.
Since then, controversial academics Dorian Abbot, Peter Bothossian and Kathleen Stock have joined the University of Austin, he said.
University of Austin does not have accreditation
According to the University of Austin website, the institution will not be offering degrees for the foreseeable future because it does not yet have accreditation.
The institution will be officially launched in the summer of 2022 with a non-accredited programme called “Forbidden Courses” which will see students from other universities discuss “the most provocative questions that often lead to censorship or self-censorship in many universities”.
In autumn 2022, the University of Austin says, it will start offering master’s programmes. An undergraduate college is planned for 2024 – although it is not yet clear if the university will have been able to obtain official accreditation by then.
Kathleen Stock, a “gender critical” philosophy professor who recently resigned her position at the University of Sussex following student protests, announced her involvement in the University of Austin on Twitter on Monday (8 November).
“Delighted to be invited to be a Founding Faculty Fellow of the University of Austin, a new initiative announced today by Bari Weiss alongside several other stellar individuals,” Stock wrote.
“I accepted with alacrity. It’s an exciting looking project, focused on free inquiry.”
Stock later clarified that she is not moving to Austin as the position is “not a full-time role”. She said she is “just getting involved in various ways from a UK base.”
The University of Austin has faced significant criticism on social media, with many mocking the unaccredited institution’s website and wider approach to education.
— David Badash (@davidbadash) November 8, 2021
Whew, just saw the news about, uh, "The University of Austin", and my goodness, that looks like a Boss Level grift operation.
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) November 8, 2021
Hello, University of Austin? I'd like to study GENDER please! pic.twitter.com/9DLeqQtZ8Y
— Crowsa Luxemburg (@quendergeer) November 8, 2021
— Marisa Kabas (@MarisaKabas) November 8, 2021
i was feeling horrendous this morning and this “university” of austin news has turned my whole day around, every piece of information i learn about it is funnier than the last
— Katie Martin (@katiedimartin) November 8, 2021
Some personal news: Proud to announce I have accepted a position as the Dean of the George Orwell Journalism School at the University of Austin. I will be accepting my first three paychecks in Bitcoin.
— Joe Bernstein (@Bernstein) November 8, 2021
Funny how none of the people on the advisory board have given up their tenured positions at elite universities to join the faculty at Austin University. https://t.co/piZF5HZsOV
— David “HINDSIGHT IS 2021” Walsh (@DavidAstinWalsh) November 8, 2021
The news comes shortly after Stock resigned from her position at the University of Sussex after students protested against her continued employment at the institution.
Stock had faced considerable backlash over her “gender critical” views. Stock – who is a trustee of the anti-trans LGB Alliance – has said many trans women are “still males with male genitalia” and she has argued against their inclusion in single-sex spaces.
She has also argued that self-identification for trans people “threatens a secure understanding of the concept ‘lesbian'”. Students at the university had accused Stock of being “transphobic”, which she strenuously denies.