AUSTIN, TX (February 25, 2016) - The University of Texas at Austin's longtime architecture dean announced on Thursday he is leaving, saying the state's new campus carry law played a major role in pushing him out.
Fritz Steiner will take over as dean of University of Pennsylvania School of Design on July 1. The job offers an opportunity to join the Ivy League and return to the school where he earned three postgraduate degrees. But Steiner said he has turned down similar opportunities in the past, and probably would have done the same if people weren't going to be allowed to carry guns in classrooms and other places on the UT-Austin campus next school year.
"I would have never applied for another job if not for campus carry," he said in an interview. "I felt that I was going to be responsible for managing a law I didn't believe in."
The departure is a blow for UT-Austin. Its architecture school has consistently ranked among the best in the nation under Steiner. This year, Architectural Record ranked its undergraduate program seventh.
"Fritz is a planner and urban designer whose work has benefited his fellow faculty members and students, and I know they will miss him," said university President Greg Fenves in an e-mail to the campus community.
Fenves, whose e-mail didn't mention campus carry, said a search for his replacement will begin immediately.
Campus carry became law last year, but doesn't go into effect until Aug. 1. It will allow people with concealed handgun licenses to carry their guns into campus buildings. Each university is allowed to create some limited "gun-free zones," but state officials have said those zones can't include classrooms.
Steiner said the law has come up in every faculty meeting and student meeting that he has attended since it passed. He said the majority of his students and faculty opposed it, but he felt powerless to do anything to assuage their fears. He said Penn approached him during the fall semester. Last time there was an opening, he declined to apply. This time, he was open to the idea, he said.
"Penn is a great institution and I am very happy to go to Penn, but I was approached ... and, if it wouldn't have been for campus carry, I wouldn't have considered it," he said.
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