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Hear from the president of what could be Austin's newest university, the University of Austin

The university's president said they are close to nailing down a location and plan to build within the next six to 12 months.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin's growth, free-thinking culture and innovation are why the president of what could be the newest university in the city, the University of Austin, chose the city to start the new institution. 

The president of the University of Austin, Pano Kanelos, said those qualities align with the university's core values. 

Those core values really have people talking online. Kanelos said the private liberal arts university will focus on the pursuit of truth, civil discourse and tough conversations, which he criticizes some universities for not doing.

The University of Austin, not to be confused with the University of Texas at Austin, is at the early stages of planning. Kanelos said they are trying to get accredited, which could take three to eight years.

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In the meantime, he said the university will hold "forbidden courses" starting next summer, which won't count for any credits but could help the school test its curriculum. With so many loose ends, people may wonder, is this university a scam? Kanelos said no way.

"It's the worst scam ever if it is," said Kanelos. "I mean, what kind of scam would be opening a nonprofit, in-person university that has to be built from the ground up? I mean, I can't even imagine what that means. This is a university."

Kanelos said he is close to choosing a location near Austin. Nothing is set in stone yet, but he plans to break ground within the next six to 12 months.

When asked why he chose a name similar to the University of Texas at Austin, Kanelos said he wanted to connect to the essence of Austin. 

"There's a UT Dallas and the University of Dallas," said Kanelos. "I come from Chicago. There's University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago. I mean, it's a normal thing for a city of a significant size to have several institutions that share names like that. So I don't anticipate any problem." 

Kanelos said he met with leaders at UT and there were positive interactions with no friction. KVUE reached out to UT, but officials haven't responded.

Kanelos said he doesn't plan on having any sports teams, so that's something they don't have to worry about.

This isn't Kanelos' first run as a university president. He was recently the president of St. John's College.

Kanelos is hoping to launch its four-year undergraduate program in fall 2024.

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