At ALEC, Ron DeSantis dismisses faculty turnover at New College of Florida

New College of Florida SRQ
New College of Florida in Sarasota. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (Apr. 2023).

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday shrugged off recent reports about high faculty turnover at New College of Florida, as the governor and other conservative leaders have sought to remake the small liberal arts school in Sarasota.

During a speech at an American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in Orlando, DeSantis addressed higher-education changes such as efforts to rid state colleges and universities of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

DeSantis said “we’ve seen a flood of applications coming in” amid the changes. He pointed to New College, which has been filling positions that account for nearly a third of the school’s faculty.

DeSantis appointed a slate of conservative members to the school’s Board of Trustees early this year.

“The media will say, ‘Oh, some of these professors are leaving, like New College. Like, isn’t that bad? Is that a brain drain?’ Well, you know, if you’re a professor in like, you know, Marxist studies, that’s not a loss for Florida if you’re going on, and trust me, I’m totally good with that,” said DeSantis, who has made education issues a pillar of his 2024 presidential campaign.

The issue of New College faculty turnover was discussed during a July 17 Board of Trustees meeting. The school was in the process of filling 36 faculty positions ahead of the fall semester, which starts Aug. 28.

At the time, school officials reported having signed offer letters for 15 incoming visiting faculty members.

After DeSantis’ appointments to the board early this year, New College trustees ousted former school President Patricia Okker and replaced her on an interim basis with Richard Corcoran, a former Republican House speaker and state education commissioner.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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