41: Lessons from the Frontlines of the University Wars | Richard Lowery & Richard Hanania
How campus bureaucrats outmaneuvered conservative politicians and donors in Texas
Richard Lowery is an Associate Professor of Finance at The University of Texas at Austin and a senior scholar at the Salem Center for Public Policy. He joins the podcast to talk about his recent article “How UT-Austin Administrators Destroyed an Intellectual Diversity Initiative,” which details what went wrong with plans to build the Liberty Institute.
Lowery and Hanania discuss the politicization of academia and how it has even reached finance, why developing new educational institutions is difficult, how “fake conservatives” on campus provide cover for the Left to control universities, and the failure of Republican donors and politicians to push back against these trends effectively.
They converge on a set of ideas regarding how to fix academia going forward. Working within the university and without outside support is hopeless, as radicals committed to stamping out dissent have already won and are in a position to thwart any attempts at reform. Nonetheless, state university systems are ultimately under the control of politicians. Conservative elected officials need to show a greater interest in taking concrete steps toward restoring free inquiry and the search for objective truth, which will only happen if they are pressured to do so by donors and right-leaning media. Usually, this will mean not trying to reform individual departments, but relying on state funding and private philanthropy to create new institutions within existing universities, if not apart from them, that can be run by those ideologically committed to rolling back the triumph of anti-capitalist dogma and identity politics.
These problems are not insoluble. American conservatives have accomplished political goals before. All it takes is an understanding of the scope of the problem and the political will to do something about it. The conversation includes specific steps that elected officials, academics, donors, and political activists can take to build new institutions.
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