Mark Regnerus, the associate sociology professor who has generated controversy because of his apparent conflicts of interest over the past two years, has yet another dubious distinction to add to his recent list of accomplishments.
In 2012, Regnerus, who sidelines as a member of the non-University-affiliated Austin Institute for The Study of Family and Culture, published a controversial study that concluded that the children of gay and lesbian parents fare worse than those of straight parents. The New Family Structures Study, which was roundly condemned by the academic community for its faulty methodology and disavowed by the sociology department here at UT, was funded by the conservative Witherspoon Institute. Since then, the Texan has learned through an open records request that the Princeton, New Jersey-based think tank paid Regnerus between $20,000 and $39,999.99 to “[design], [organize] and [lead] a several-day seminar for graduate students in June 2013 on the conceptual foundations involved in contemporary sociological thought and the conduct of social science research” in addition to consulting for the institute on other matters that summer and fall.
The revelation, made in a form Regnerus was required to submit disclosing his financial conflicts of interest, shows the thorough extent to which Regnerus has cozied up to his benefactors. According to the Texas Tribune’s Government Salaries Explorer, Regnerus makes $86,500 a year, meaning that he made between 23 and 46 percent of a year’s University pay from Witherspoon last year.
With clear evidence of a such a generous ongoing relationship with the Witherspoon Institute, one once again has to wonder whether the professor is working out of disinterest or self-interest.
Brands is editor-in-chief.