Journalist Bari Weiss Plans to Create the University of Austin

Opinionated writer Bari Weiss is creating a new collegiate institution—the University of Austin.

Rachel Curry - Author

Nov. 9 2021, Published 11:51 a.m. ET

American journalist and opinion writer Bari Weiss has a storied background with the likes of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Tablet Magazine. Now, she's expanding her resume to include academia with the creation of the University of Austin.

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Here's what we know about the University of Austin, including who the president is, whether it's accredited, and if it will really be able to compete with existing schools in the city like the University of Texas at Austin.

What we know about Bari Weiss's upcoming University of Austin

A Weiss newsletter on Nov. 8 read, "We can't wait for universities to fix themselves, so we're starting a new one."

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The post comes from the pen of Pano Kanelos, reportedly the first president of the University of Austin. Kanelos wrote that censorship in academia is the reason for the new institution. He suggests that people with unpopular or right-leaning ideologies are ostracized and that censorship is a key to avoiding financial collapse.

Kanelos also wrote, "Our students will be exposed to the deepest wisdom of civilization and learn to encounter works not as dead traditions but as fierce contests of timeless significance that help human beings distinguish between what is true and false, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. Students will come to see such open inquiry as a lifetime activity that demands of them a brave, sometimes discomfiting, search for enduring truths."

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Others have described Weiss as a conservative. However, in an interview with Joe Rogan, Weiss called herself a left-leaning centrist.

Who is Pano Kanelos?

In June, Kanelos left his post as president of St. John's College, a liberal arts school in Annapolis, Md. Kanelos served at the school's helm for four years and left on good terms. He said, "Being at St. John’s was the greatest privilege that has ever been extended to me."

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Where is the University of Austin located?

That's a good question. Despite Kanelos stating that he was unpacking boxes in his office, the University of Austin has yet to find a home. The 31-member board, including Weiss and Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale, plans to open a summer school in 2022, following up with an undergraduate program by 2024.

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The tuition hasn't been disclosed yet, but Kanelos harped on the increasingly expensive cost of higher education in the U.S.

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Is the University of Austin accredited?

Academic regulators have yet to approve the University of Austin (advertised by the nickname UATX). The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Higher Learning Commission will have to supply accreditation before the University of Austin can proceed.

Right now, the board is mainly focused on securing donations. The donate button is loud and clear on the school's home page. UATX says about donations, "UATX has requested and is awaiting a tax-exempt determination from the IRS. At present, UATX is fiscally sponsored by Cicero Research, a tax-exempt entity organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to Cicero Research for its "university founding" are tax-deductible for income, estate, and gift tax purposes."

One thing is for sure, the University of Austin plans on being "degree-less," which means that it's bound to have a long journey ahead fighting traditional institutions.


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