After announcing its founding in 2021, the University of Austin has won approval to issue liberal arts degrees and is now accepting undergraduate students for fall 2024, The Texas Tribune reports.
The University of Austin is now undergoing the accreditation process after the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board authorized its ability to issue a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies for the next two years. Meeting accreditation standards will take five to seven years, according to Pano Kanelos, UATX’s founding president and president emeritus of St. John’s College in Maryland.
The college was founded in response to what its lead stakeholders called a rise in “illiberalism” on college campuses. Rooting itself in a commitment to open inquiry, free speech and civil discourse, UATX has offered non-credit programs for the past two summers that invite discussions about topics that “often lead to censorship or self-censorship in many universities.”
“We are done waiting for the legacy universities to right themselves. And so we are building anew. I mean that quite literally…” the university stated on X, formerly known as Twitter.
UATX’s board of advisers includes former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, former Harvard University president Lawrence H. Summers and playwright David Mamet. Its founders have previously been scandalized for publicly stated political views or controversial opinions. Summers once suggested at an academic conference that gender may explain why fewer women lead successful careers in science and math, The New New York Times reports. Moreover, Weiss stated The Times’ politically skewed workplace culture inhibited diverse opinions.
Despite criticism UATX might have received following its 2021 announcement, the school has earned legitimate traction. It’s raised $200 million in two years from over 2,500 donors, with gifts larger than $100,000 coming from over 100 funders. Moreover, the university has received more than 6,000 faculty applications.
UATX plans to maintain a small faculty and student body and a low student-to-faculty ratio. It aims to be highly selective with its applicants and requires standardized test scores for admission. Its first 100-member class will receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship, the Austin American-Statesman reports. After that, it plans to keep tuition around $32,000.