Frederick Steiner's deanship at Penn Design will begin on July 1, succeeding Marilyn Jordan Taylor. In a piece published in The Texas Tribune, Steiner reportedly rejected offers for positions at other schools in the past, but was provoked to reconsider in light of a new law allowing concealed guns in UT Austin's campus buildings, going into effect August 1.
Previously, concealed handguns were legally allowed on campus, but not inside buildings. "I would have never applied for another job if not for campus carry," says Steiner as quoted in The Texas Tribune. "I felt that I was going to be responsible for managing a law I didn't believe in." He adds: "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."
Academics and other members of the UT Austin community are concerned that such campus carry laws will result in a "brain drain", scaring away potential applicants and instilling fear in the classroom for both students and teachers. Such concerns are already becoming reality, according to a few instances cited in The Guardian.
Steiner's work in architecture academia is seasoned and varied, and UT Austin's Architecture school was consistently top-ranked under his deanship. The Texas Tribune characterizes his exit as a "blow" for the university.
According to a press release issued by Penn Design, before serving as dean at UT Austin for the last 15 years, Steiner spent 12 years as the director of the School of Planning and Landscape Architecture at Arizona State University, and was previously on faculty at Washington State University and the University of Colorado Denver's Center for Built Environment Studies. He is the author of many books, including The Living Landscape: An Ecological Approach to Landscape Planning, and will return to Penn Design after completing two master's degrees and a doctoral degree in city and regional planning there, as well as three years of being a research scholar at the Penn Institute for Urban Research.