Robert Zimmer, Steven Pinker Resign from the University of Austin Advisory Board

Exactly one week later New York Times Opinion columnist Bari Weiss announced the creation of a hypothetical new “university” stacked with advisors united by “general dismay over the state of academics and recognition that we cannot wait for cavalry,” two riders in that brave regiment resigned their commissions.

Robert J. Zimmer, the president of the University of Chicago, and Steven Pinker, the Johnstone Professor of Family in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, left the University of Austin’s advisory board on Monday.

“As is often the case for fast-growing startups,” a statement from the University of Austin said, “there have been some missteps.” It noted that their website “did not initially make clear the distinction between the Founding Trustees and the Advisory Board.”

While advisors are “generally appropriate” to the project without necessarily endorsing everything the University of Austin says or does, the trustees are “responsible for those things.” This, the statement asserts without elaborating, “has led to unnecessary complications” for advisors like Zimmer and Pinker.

“We fully understand their decision to resign,” the statement read.

Zimmer said in a statement posted on a UChi Chicago news site that he will step down as his adviser on Thursday. He writes that while he values ​​the “new institution” and its commitment to free speech, it has “made a number of statements about higher education in general, many of which are rather critical, very different from my own point of view.”

The prime minister added that he will continue to focus on the University of Chicago, where he will “continue to work and speak on free speech on campus.” He then wished the University of Austin success in future endeavors.

Pinker made her resignation public on Twitter, wrote that he would resign “by amicable and mutual agreement.” He added that he will focus on his book, BBC radio and his podcast series, and will not “talk more about this”.

Follow a winning post on Weiss ‘Substack. The announcement, written by the university’s glittering new president, Pano Kanelos, noted that “in our ranks, faculty are being treated like ideological criminals.”

Instead, he promised, courses at the University of Austin would ask “provocative questions that often lead to censorship or self-censorship at many universities.” An implementation plan suggests it hopes to launch master’s degree programs in the fall of 2022 and an undergraduate program two years later.

Kanelos’ post said that some “those who are concerned about the state of higher education” would come to join the academic welcome program. Its founding trustees (now distinguished from its advisors) included historian Niall Ferguson, evolutionary biologist Heather Heying, and Palantir co-founder John Lonsdale.

Kanelo’s initial team of mentors included Zimmer, Pinker, playwright David Mamet, Atlantic writer Caitlin Flanagan, Brown economist Glenn Loury, and former Harvard president Larry Summers.

“There’s so much broken stuff in America,” Kanelos wrote. “But higher education may be the institution most fractured.”

In Monday’s statement on its resignation, the University of Austin concluded with an upbeat note: “We look forward to sharing new developments soon, as we move from planning to construction.” | Robert Zimmer, Steven Pinker Resign from the University of Austin Advisory Board


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