Showing posts with label Joe Lonsdale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joe Lonsdale. Show all posts

Monday, July 8, 2024

Socrates in Space: University of Austin as a Model of America's Ivory Tower Future

The University of Austin's inaugural class begins this September. While its founding has had some media attention, critical and uncritical, little is known about the school, other than its founders and some of the curriculum--and more recently about the school's constitution and austere, free market business model. We expect the public to receive information akin to propaganda from the new university while investigative reporters attempt to find what's really developing.  

Tomorrowland's Elite Model

The US has had three major growth periods in elite higher education with the founding of Christian-based Ivy League schools in the 17th and 18th centuries, the rise of more private colleges in the 19th century, and the evolution of state flagship universities in the 20th century, which altered their missions from teaching to focus more on research and medicine.

According to President Pano Kanelos, the University of Austin (UATX) is modeled after elite schools founded by the money of 19th century capitalists: Johns Hopkins University, the University of Chicago (John D. Rockefeller), and Stanford University. In its original plan, the school is seeking accreditation but not public funding. And without federal funding, the school is not required to be transparent on a number of issues, including finances, student demographics, and crime statistics. A limited amount of information will be available on the institution's IRS 990 forms.

UATX's leaders see the school as a model for elite education in the 21st century and beyond: socializing future elites in neo-classical western thought and the search of the truth as they know it: through the lens of US venture capitalists and US private equity. The school's donors include Plantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale who created the start up funds for UATX, real estate investor Harlan Crow, and global real estate investor Scott Malkin.  

Despite its calling for intellectual diversity, the University of Austin will serve as a safe space for conservative and libertarian youth, especially young men: blind to race, class, and gender, and friendly to those who may feel intimidated by progressive folks and the recent pro-Palestinian movement on elite campuses. UATX will be attuned to the needs of private capital and the promotion of their ventures and the ventures of their allies: from bitcoin, to artificial intelligence, to private space exploration

Command and Control

At the University of Austin, there will be no faculty senate and no faculty tenure. The initial faculty roster is composed of 19 men and 4 women--and appears to be disproportionately white. Staff and support roles will be done largely by artificial intelligence and workers in Guatemala.   

 

Artificial Intelligence will be used to reduce labor costs at the University of Austin. 

Prospective students will selected by the faculty and on merit, which includes standardized test scores. Those who matriculate will learn classical and neoclassical western philosophy (like Socrates and the Federalist Papers) and English Literature in combination with science and engineering, where all students will take the same coursework for the first two years, then become research fellows in the remaining two years, with each student involved in practically solving "a major political, social or economic problem...by the time they graduate."

Students will share apartments off campus where they will do their own cooking. There will be no amenities on campus or campus police, but local gyms and local police will be in the area. Aside from the Austin Union, the student body is expected to start their own clubs and activities. The physical library is a small room with a few bookshelves, and the librarian has additional duties. Civil debate is encouraged, but campus protests will be limited--it is said, to protect the rights of all students. 

The founding 2024 class is expected to enroll 100 students, growing to 200 students in 2025 and 1,000 students in 2028, reaching a peak of 4,000, and with a new campus. After the founding class, which will receive free tuition for four years, tuition is expected to be about $32,500 per year, with a number of students receiving scholarships.

Related links:

The Constitution of Academic Liberty (Niall Ferguson, National Affairs)

Can the New University of Austin Revive the Culture of Inquiry in Higher Education? (Joanne Jacobs, Education Next)

An American Education: Notes from UATX (Noah Rawlings, The New Inquiry)

Austin’s Anti-Woke University Is Living in Dreamland (Morgan O'Hanlon)

The Future of Publicly-Funded University Hospitals (Dahn Shaulis and Glen McGhee)

A People's History of Higher Education in the US?

Dangerous Spaces: Sexual Assault and Other Forms of Violence On and Off Campus