And Lo, it shall be named the University of Austin. The usual disgruntled suspects are marching off to set up an unaccredited university that offers no degrees to Austin, Texas, as announced by a right-wing ex-college president, Panos Kanelos, on Bari Weiss’s substack. After deploring the censorious nature of the liberal university, he declares that he has moved to an office in Austin and is going to create a new university, fiat ex nihilo, from the dregs of the canceled.
But we are done waiting. We are done waiting for the legacy universities to right themselves. And so we are building anew.
I mean that quite literally.
As I write this, I am sitting in my new office (boxes still waiting to be unpacked) in balmy Austin, Texas, where I moved three months ago from my previous post as president of St. John’s College in Annapolis.
I am not alone.
Our project began with a small gathering of those concerned about the state of higher education—Niall Ferguson, Bari Weiss, Heather Heying, Joe Lonsdale, Arthur Brooks, and I—and we have since been joined by many others, including the brave professors mentioned above, Kathleen Stock, Dorian Abbot and Peter Boghossian.
We count among our numbers university presidents: Robert Zimmer, Larry Summers, John Nunes, and Gordon Gee, and leading academics, such as Steven Pinker, Deirdre McCloskey, Leon Kass, Jonathan Haidt, Glenn Loury, Joshua Katz, Vickie Sullivan, Geoffrey Stone, Bill McClay, and Tyler Cowen.
We are also joined by journalists, artists, philanthropists, researchers, and public intellectuals, including Lex Fridman, Andrew Sullivan, Rob Henderson, Caitlin Flanagan, David Mamet, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sohrab Ahmari, Stacy Hock, Jonathan Rauch, and Nadine Strossen.
What a rogues gallery. It’s going to differ from PragerU, though, in being more than a YouTube channel — Kanelos is committed to creating a physical campus, with buildings and all that stuff, somewhere near Austin. Why Austin, you might ask? His answer:
If it’s good enough for Elon Musk and Joe Rogan, it’s good enough for us.
He forgot to mention that other equally esteemed scholar and fellow Austinite, Alex Jones.
He has appointed faculty! They include Ayaan Hirsi Ali (how far she has fallen), Kathleen Stock, the transphobic philosopher, and Peter Boghossian, the asshole philosopher. That’s it, so far. The curriculum isn’t going to have much breadth, I guess. Although, to be fair, they don’t even have a curriculum, yet, except perhaps to be the rubbish bin that attracts incompetent ideologues. They also have an ambitious goal of having a fully functional four-year undergraduate program in place by 2024. Ha ha.
Don’t you worry about the University of Austin, though! What they lack in academic rigor and actual scholarly talent, they make up for with the usual far-right super-grifting abilities. They say they are
in the process of securing $250 million, which means some asshole billionaires somewhere are lined up to throw money at this poisonous shitpile.
Oh. We do know who is funding this grift: Joe Lonsdale, tech bro venture capitalist and pal to Peter Thiel.
So this is basically a project of Palantir.
Thiel and Lonsdale are finding more ways to implement their destructive accelerationist ideology. https://t.co/ISAF1uWAIB
— Leah McElrath (@leahmcelrath) November 8, 2021