The University of Texas at Austin: A Campus Militarized

Following the Second World War, American universities transformed their research and curricula to serve the military-industrial complex. Military leaders, war hawks, and weapons developers discovered that universities were the ideal places to further the cause of war. No longer would the nation's best minds be wasted on frivolous books and abstractions. Instead, they would be applied to the furtherance of American military might. Through Korea, Vietnam, and the hottest days of the Cold War, American universities have expended untold amounts of intellectual labor in the production of war machinery.

Professors and university researchers have become indentured servants to the unquestioned right of the military to use higher education as a staging ground for conflict. Research money eartagged for military purposes pours into universities, directing energy away from benevolent, humanistic projects. Students - undergrads and grads - are coerced into supporting the growing edifice of a university-military alliance. Working on dangerous, futuristic weapons systems has appeal for many students, while others are simply happy to have a career-track lab job. Students are the raw material of the war machine: a cheap, impressionable labor base that can be molded for any bellicose endeavor.

Always looking for money, unimaginative and unethical administrators rely on the millions of research dollars provided by the military and private corporations. Questions of selling out higher education were swept under the carpet years ago. The budget-crunchers in the Tower have gladly remodeled the University to make it attractive to monied war interests.

UT has touted its military research contracts as "synergy" between military interests and University interests - as a way to invest the best in education with applied real-world skills. Furthermore, they say, it's the "only way" to make ends meet. Yet undergrads still suffer from woefully overcrowded classes, a dearth of actual professors teaching classes, underfunded departments, crumbling buildings, and rapidly-increasing tuition and fees. Add to this the fact that professors are spending more time in the service of the military-industrial complex, students are treated as subservient research drones, our University curriculum is undermined by war interests, and the University commitment to "to serve as a catalyst for positive change in Texas and beyond" (UT's Core Purpose).

Few students know about it, but UT-Austin has another campus 30 minutes northwest of the Main Campus. The place is called the J.J. Pickle Research Campus and it's even larger than our humble 40 Acres. It looks like a cross between a military base and the A&M campus. The security is tight and they don't take kindly at all to people without badges. Out there, students, professors, and scary people in white suits work on secretive research projects.

J.J. Pickle Research Campus

The campus includes the Applied Research Labs, Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab, the Center for Electromechanics, the Robotics Research Group, and the Center for Aeromechanics. Nearby is the Institute for Advanced Technology. While there are quite a few truly great projects undertaken at Pickle, there is also a lot of questionable activity. The U.S. Navy, the Department of Defense, and other branches of the military have set up shop at these facilities and are developing technology like electromagnetic weaponry, systems to deliver ballistic missiles, and even fantastical Star Wars Defense Initiative projects.

As a university lab, the Institute of Advanced Technology is unique in that it is completely under the control of the U.S. Army. Also the Applied Research Lab (ARL) is one of only six Pentagon-directed University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs), which are closely tied with Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) that include corporations as the MITRE Corporation and the RAND Corporation. According the the ARL, their current "research efforts are now directed at high resolution sonar, shallow water acoustics, software system research, geographic system development for the USMC, satellite geodesy, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), active sonar, undersea surveillance, and information and data processing".

The ARL was originally founded as the Defense Research Laboratory (DRL) in 1945 by Dr. C.P. Boner, director of the new lab and a former UT professor. The name of the lab was changed in 1968 to the Applied Research Laboratories in an effort to "reflect the increasing role of nonmilitary government agencies in the sponsored projects"1. However, several years later (1972), then director of the ARL, Chester McKinney, stated that the lab controlled about 99 percent of all military research that had been directly assigned to UT by contract, some of which helped develop technologies used in the Vietnam War. According to Ronnie Dugger, in his book Our Invaded Universities, "The same year [UT President] Hackerman was telling the students that 'There is no war machine on this campus,' the university's military research center was saying in its official publication, 'Throughout [our] history, the bulk of the program has been sponsored by Department of Defense agencies and this is likely to continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.'" (p.263-4)

The UTPD constantly patrols the laboratories and uses security cameras to keep a watchful eye on both suspected saboteurs and students trying to get a peak at what their school is involved in. The University is understandably very sensitive about Pickle where public scrutiny of what goes on at a public universities' facilities stops short.

Institutions in Service of the Warfare State

Ranked in order of total DoD funding for FY 2000 (excludes additional funds from FFRDC's)
source: data adapted from NSF
1. Johns Hopkins University $371,852,000
2. Pennsylvania State University, University Park $103,398,000
3. University of Texas Austin $73,248,000
4. University of Southern California $73,248,000
5. Massachusettes Institute of Technology $54,303,000
6. University of Minnesota $41,993,000
7. Stanford $37,637,000
8. University of Washington $35,150,000
9. Carnegie Mellon $30,978,000
10. UC San Diego $30,991,000
11. University of Michigan $28,248,000
12. Utah State University $26,222,000
13. UC Los Angeles $25,282,000
14. Georgia Institute of Technology $25,085,000
15. University of New Mexico $24,878,000
16. Georgetown University $24,584,000
17. UC Berkeley $23,556,000
18. University of Illinois U.C. $21,535,000
19. California Institute of Technology $19,930,000
20. UC Santa Barbara $19,799,000
21. Louisiana State University $19,630,000
22. Cornell University $19,368,000
23. Woods Hole O.I. $19,962,000
24. Northwestern $15,400,000
25. Mississippi State $15,290,000
26. University of Florida $14,752,000
27. University of Arizona $14,668,000
28. University of Colorado $14,517,000
29. Princeton $13,659,000
30. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University $13,652,000
31. University of Maryland, College Park $13,186,000
32. Purdue University $12,731,000
33. University of Pennsylvania $12,731,000
34. Duke $11,944,000
35. Boston University $11,610,000
36. Harvard $11,591,000
37. North Carolina State $11,552,000
38. Ohio State $11,130,000
39. University of Texas, San Antonio $10,608,000
40. Vanderbilt $9,833,000

Other Sites of Interest:

Military Documentation Project focuses on Texas

Why I Don't Take Military Funding by UT Computer Science Professor Benjamin Kuipers

Fiat Pax