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UT News

Executive Director Appointed for Civitas Institute

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AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas at Austin has named Justin Dyer as the executive director of the newly formed Civitas Institute, referred to in early planning stages as the Liberty Institute.

The Civitas Institute will focus on the teaching, understanding and appreciation of American values that serve as the foundation for a free and enduring society, including constitutionalism, limited government, free enterprise and markets, and individual liberty. Dyer will bring together disciplines in politics, philosophy, economics, history, public policy and business to create unique opportunities for students to study in an environment that encourages independent thought, civil discourse, free speech, reasoned inquiry and intellectual curiosity. The institute’s name is inspired by the university’s motto, Disciplina Praesidium Civitatis, meaning “the cultivated mind is the guardian of democracy.”

“We are so pleased to welcome Professor Dyer back to Austin, and I want to commend the faculty-led search committee for recommending someone with such an impressive record as a scholar, teacher and leader,” said UT Austin President Jay Hartzell. “His deep expertise in American political thought, coupled with his leadership experience, integrity and proven ability to work with others across a university campus, all make him an exceptional choice to build this exciting institute here.”

Dyer earned a doctoral degree at UT Austin and previously served as professor of political science and founding director of the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri. At the Kinder Institute, he successfully brought together students and faculty members with a wide range of backgrounds to study and discuss constitutional democracy in the U.S. and around the world. He is the author or editor of eight books and numerous journal articles, essays and book reviews, and he serves on the editorial board of the journal American Political Thought.

He will officially join the university July 1 and will also serve as a professor in the Department of Government.

“I am thrilled to return to The University of Texas to be part of this new and important endeavor,” Dyer said. “By bringing together some of the world’s best scholars across these related disciplines, the Civitas Institute will provide opportunities for the next generation of civic leaders to carefully and critically examine the ideas, institutions and economic principles that undergird a free society.”

“We thank Justin Dyer for all his dedication, leadership and hard work which has made the Kinder Institute such an outstanding organization,” said Rich Kinder, Chairman of the Kinder Foundation. “It is thanks to him that the institute has earned the reputation it has over the past few years.”

Although the institute’s formal vision, structure and offerings will be further developed under Dyer’s leadership, it plans to create unique, world-class academic programs, collaborate with other units to provide new opportunities for students, help recruit new faculty members to the university, and support faculty and student scholarship.