Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

New School of Civic Leadership set to open application, offer classes next school year

Lorianne Willett
The UT Tower on May 10, 2024.

The new School of Civic Leadership will begin offering general education and signature courses for the 2024-2025 school year. 

The School of Civic Leadership aims to prepare students for leadership roles in society through teaching Western civilization and American constitutional history, said Justin Dyer, dean of the School of Civic Leadership. In the fall, the school will launch its philosophy, politics and economics minor and students can begin applying to the school starting Aug. 1.

“We’re thinking about the kind of foundational civic education that will help them in leadership positions in the future and take responsibility for their communities,” Dyer said.

The Board of Regents formed the new school out of the Civitas Institute, which it now houses. The institute, previously called the Liberty Institute, raised concerns among students and faculty because it was funded by conservative donors and state legislators. According to The Texas Tribune, President Jay Hartzell, UT System Board Chairmen Kevin Etlife and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick worked together to establish the institute during the 2021 legislative session.

Stuart Reichler, a professor in the College of Natural Sciences said he had initial concerns about the Civitas Institute being funded for political purposes, and that his concerns remain.

“The inference seems to be that they don’t think their (conservative) ideas have much success at universities, and specifically funded this institute as a way to push their political agenda,” Reichler said. “That’s the part that seems really concerning.”

Reichler said he thinks new faculty and resources for the school seem unnecessary because the University already has departments dedicated to economics, government and public affairs. 

“It just seems like an enormous waste of resources,” Reichler said. “All the things they say that this Institute’s going to do, we already do.” 

Electrical and computer engineering senior Jack Son said he is concerned about the precedent funding from political donors will set for political influence at UT and the possible political motives behind classes in the new college. 

“(The funding of the Civitas Institute) was a bit concerning to me just because it’s political donors, political backers and politicians in the capitol influencing education at UT,” Son said. 

Zach Lacy, a government and philosophy sophomore and fellow for the Civitas Institute, said the new school offers the opportunity to study free thought through learning a blend of economics, philosophy and politics.

“The amount of conversations I’ve had through the School of Civic Leadership has been really great … because it’s not about a debate and it’s not about a political issue and about winning,” Lacy said. “These conversations can be had unapologetically for the goal of politics and not just the goal for debate, and that’s a really awesome thing.” 

Civic engagement and leadership are not inherently taught universally, said government junior Kiana Marques-Nicholson.

“(Civic engagement) is interesting to me, in the sense that it’s important,” Marques-Nicholson said. “I think a lot of people are blind to it at first, but once they are exposed to different ways that they can engage, I feel like UT as a whole does a really good job of promoting civic engagement.” 

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About the Contributor
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.