A Lone Voice of Reason at UT
Inside Higher Ed covers the proposed Liberty Institute at the University of Texas – and makes an admirable effort to talk to academic dissidents. My friend Richard Lowery speaks:
Not all professors are so skeptical of the Liberty Institute, as they understand it thus far, however. Richard Lowery, an associate professor of finance, said during the council meeting that he was confused by some of the criticism, as the university already funds various programs that are “explicitly political,” including social justice and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
Lowery declined an interview request but provided the following written statement:
The University of Texas at Austin administration, with the enthusiastic support of the faculty, has implemented a diversity, equity and inclusion plan, the original version of which was described by the Foundation [for] Individual Rights in Education as follows: “[T]he proposal’s mandates present a serious threat of establishing a viewpoint based litmus test for both hiring and promotion,” with the final version being, in my opinion, as bad or worse than the original draft. Thus, not only are the supposed concerns about a political test in a potential “Liberty Institute” hypocritical, but in light of this explicit, and many implicit, political tests being used at the university, it is absolutely essential to establish some structure at UT-Austin where academic freedom can be restored. While I support the principle of establishing such a structure, the Provost’s plan is clearly designed to give control over such a unit to the existing faculty, who generally oppose academic freedom, and thus would serve as little more than a fig leaf.”