Florida pushes back against UF report critical of New College business plan

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New College of Florida in Sarasota. By Seán Kinane/WMNF

Some top state higher-education officials on Wednesday responded to analyses by two unidentified University of Florida professors of a New College of Florida business plan.

The business plan came amid a series of changes at New College after Gov. Ron DeSantis early this year appointed a slate of conservative trustees to lead the Sarasota school.

The trustees on Tuesday selected Richard Corcoran, a former state House speaker and education commissioner, to serve as New College president after he had served as interim president since February.

New College students protested the choice of Corcoran.

Corcoran touted the 119-page business plan while interviewing for the job.

The plan includes goals such as increasing enrollment, improving food quality, making campus improvements and overhauling the curriculum.

The two unidentified University of Florida faculty members offered various criticisms of the plan, including one saying the plan is “not financially viable” in its current state.

Members of the state university system Board of Governors’ Strategic Planning Committee discussed the analyses Wednesday.

“I can’t function as a board member, and I don’t think any of us can, if we get into the habit of calling anonymous faculty to opine on the plans of other institutions. I can see where that becomes a slippery slope, and it can get really messy,” committee Chairman Alan Levine said.

Levine said the New College plan, drafted at the request of the Board of Governors, was put together in little over a month.

“I do think the work product provided by President Corcoran was exactly what we asked for, and I don’t think it’s a final product by any stretch,” Levine said.

Board of Governors member Amanda Phalin, who also is a professor at UF, had requested that colleagues in the university’s Warrington College of Business provide feedback on the New College plan.

Phalin apologized to other members of the committee during Wednesday’s meeting, saying it was “not my intention for it to have been relayed or received in the way that it was.”

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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