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Michael Shires Joins UATX Team to Launch New University

Michael Shires

The Pepperdine School of Public Policy (SPP) announces Michael Shires, associate professor of public policy and recent vice dean for strategy and online programs and director of assessment as the new James Q. Wilson Visiting Professor for the 2022-2023 academic year.

He transitions from leadership at SPP to serve as chief of staff and vice president for Strategic Initiatives at the new UATX. The nonprofit organization, commonly known as the “University of Austin,” will build a new university in the Austin, Texas area devoted to the unfettered pursuit of truth through three core principles: freedom of inquiry, freedom of conscience, and civil discourse.

Shires observed, “This institution is the natural extension of the exemplary work we have done at the School of Public Policy to embrace viewpoint diversity and civic engagement. It will take it to the next level by expanding that work to foster an open and free dialogue in every place and on every topic at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. My 22 years at SPP have perfectly prepared me for this role as we work at UATX to build it on a larger scale. I am deeply grateful to Pepperdine for making this move possible.”

In his time at Pepperdine, Shires has been a leader and contributor to the campus community, serving on nearly every major university faculty committee and as a member of the leadership team for all three campus reaccreditation cycles that have occurred during his tenure. At SPP, he has been a fixture in the core, teaching the school’s required course on leadership and public policy analysis, as well as leading the school’s MPP program’s internship, capstone, and orientation workshops for most of the past two decades. Most recently, he assumed the role of vice dean for strategy and online programs as he helped the school launch its first online initiative.

Shires’ role for the next year as the James Q. Wilson Visiting Professor will allow him to touch the lives of a final cohort of students at SPP. “Leaving the classroom will be the hardest part of my new role,” Shires shared. “Each student brings so much to our program and the very best part of my job was helping them to discover how their passion and energy could be directed to make the differences they wanted.”

Dean Pete Peterson summarized the school’s sentiments in a recent email to faculty and staff stating, “There’s no way an email like this can adequately express my appreciation for his decades of dedicated service to this institution, but I’m grateful that, even with his and Ann’s move to Austin, we will all continue to partner in our joint mission of preparing citizens for leadership. Please join me in celebrating and praying for these next steps for Dr. Shires and his family.”