When the University of Texas at Austin’s longtime architecture dean announced last week that he planned to take a job at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, and cited Texas’ controversial campus-carry gun law as a reason for the move, news coverage quickly resulted in an oversimplified story, Frederick R. (Fritz) Steiner said in an interview with The Chronicle.
“It was one of the factors among several factors to decide to go back to Penn,” Mr. Steiner said on Monday. “It’s been kind of curious to see the gun thing evolve from a factor to the factor.”
Mr. Steiner cited a broader lack of support for public higher education in Texas — which was exemplified by its decision to enact the campus-carry law — as well as the opportunity to work at Penn, where he earned three graduate degrees, as major factors in his decision that were brushed over by the news media.
Mr. Steiner’s announcement that he would leave the post prompted coverage by The New York Times, BBC News, and CNN, among other outlets, many of which noted that campus carry was one of multiple reasons for the move.
The university’s final report on how to carry out the law drew praise from Mr. Steiner, who said that the campus’s working group on the matter had done a “Solomon-like job” in adapting, but that he still struggled to see how he could be an administrator at UT in the future.
“I’m honored that Penn made me the offer, but it wasn’t something I sought out,” said Mr. Steiner, who will be dean of Penn’s School of Design. “I had been recruited by other institutions, and I had served a standard response that I was flattered but I was happy here. It was campus-carry that opened the possibility of other options.”