Between the subterfuge and the name’s now inseparable connection to threats to tenure for teaching critical race theory, UT’s Liberty Institute is sparking outrage across Forty Acres. Some even say it threatens the future of higher education in Texas. At the heart of it all is a name that sends the Chosen Ones rushing in fear across the Capitol: Dan Patrick. Here, the key points behind the uproar.
1 / it can’t really be called the Liberty Institute. It turns out that the Plano-based legal group First Liberty Institute has this trademark. And they don’t want to share. Ironically, dueling Liberties are kindred spirits; The First Liberty cases include the 2019 one involving the Oregon baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding.
2 / As revealed The Texas Grandstand in August, UT President Jay Hartzell has been discussing the idea since at least 2016, when he was still dean of the McCombs School of Business.
3 / Other accomplices include oil tycoon Bud Brigham and his former student Robert Rowling, owner of Omni Hotels. It’s unclear who else is involved since UT redacted documents acquired by the Grandstand.
4 / Sources say UT accepted the project as an appeasement and distraction to keep Patrick out of its core business. Board of Regents chairman Kevin Eltife ‘served with him as a state senator,’ adds Quorum Report editor Harvey Kronberg. “He’s a very shrewd strategist.”
5 / An e-mail discovered spoke of the use of a supervisory board (see committed “alumni and friends” willing to pay generously) to keep him out of university authority.
6 / It is widely believed that the main cast will be brought in from the Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation, a darling of Patrick. “No one expects intellectual breakthroughs from the Liberty Institute,” says Kronberg. “They expect indoctrination talking points.”
7 / You are already paying for it. Lawmakers slipped $6 million from UT’s 2022-2023 state funds to the project last year. The kicker? Other campus entities, including the Texas Memorial Museum, have had their funding cut, the Austin American Statesman. The museum, an institution since 1939, may even have to close.
8 / Days after Governor Greg Abbott signed the Texas budget, cryptic funding and all, Brigham donated $10,000 to Patrick’s campaign, according to the Grandstand. Rowling, meanwhile, is one of Patrick’s biggest donors, having deposited $150,000 into his war chest last summer.
The lieutenant governor is already driving clear steps to affect the levels of education decision-making in the state.
- Between 2015 and 2022, he eliminated opposition within his own party, stripping those who crossed him of presidencies, replacing them with loyalists and forcing retirements through redistricting and primary season support. .
- Patrick cut the number of “yes” votes needed to pass legislation after Republicans lost their supermajority in 2020.
- He’s bent lawmakers and special interests to his will by controlling bills heard in the Senate, like NIL requirements or building campuses in 2021, and what never does, like eligibility requirements. student loan forgiveness in 2019.
- In March, he announced his intention to relegate higher education to a subcommittee within the Senate Education Committee, thereby consolidating power.