Universal Mentors Association

Texas regents create college to house Civitas Institute


The University of Texas system Board of Regents voted Thursday to establish a new college at the flagship Austin campus to house the Civitas Institute, a center dedicated to promoting “intellectual diversity” and funded in part by conservative donors, according to The Texas Tribune.

The vote pre-empts a bill before the Texas Legislature that would have formalized the creation of the Civitas Institute as a college within the university. The motion does not appear on the Board of Regents’ original meeting agenda; it was quietly added April 28 and approved during the final part of the two-day meeting, the Tribune reported.  

Originally conceived as the Liberty Institute, the Civitas Institute is “dedicated to the study and teaching of individual liberty, limited government, private enterprise and free markets,” according to documents obtained by the Tribune. It is backed by Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick and bankrolled in part by $12 million in state and system funds.

Faculty and other critics have raised alarms about lawmakers and donors using the institute to exert their political influence on campus, especially through a board of overseers of “alumni and friends.”

After Thursday’s board meeting, UT Austin president Jay Hartzell offered assurances that the new college will operate the same way the university’s other colleges do, and that its board of advisers will not have any special authority.

“[They’ll act as] sort of sounding boards for the dean and provide input and counsel all kinds of things, but as per norms,” Hartzell said.

Since the Civitas Institute launched last July, it has hosted lectures in collaboration with faculty fellows and developed an undergraduate fellowship program.


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