Former New College librarian says firing was “intentionally disruptive”

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

Helene Gold said over the past three weeks, she felt “increasingly out of the loop.”

So, the librarian wasn’t surprised when she received a call on Monday, requesting her immediate presence in the library conference room.

“I hung up the phone,” Gold said, “I looked at my colleague, and I said, ‘It’s happening.’”

She said Bradley Thiessen, the interim provost at New College, and Erika Worthy, the chief human resources officer, were in the conference room. They told Gold that due to “reorganization” at the institution, her position would be eliminated and she would be let go immediately. 

Gold had worked at New College for almost five years. She said her firing — less than three weeks before the semester ends — seems “intentionally disruptive.”

Matt Lepinski was an associate professor of computer science, faculty chair and trustee for the New College Board of Trustees up until last week, when he announced his resignation at the most-recent Board meeting.

Lepinski said these “reorganization” efforts at New College are being done without considering current students, as many of them consult with librarians like Gold at this point in the semester.

“The library plays a very key role in the academic program,” Lepinski said, “and that’s especially true at the end of the term when so many students are working on term papers or other large assignments.” 

Sarah Hernandez is an associate professor of sociology and Caribbean and Latin American studies at New College. She said Gold’s termination is further proof that good employees are not being appreciated.

“We saw that with the five people who were denied tenure — not on the basis of their record as scholars, their record as teachers or their record as contributors to the community,” Hernandez said. “No, that was not the basis for that denial. So on what basis was it otherwise?” 

Yoleidy Rosario-Hernandez, the school’s former dean for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, was also fired from New College in March. Gold said these terminations may be a part of a larger pattern at the institution, as well as the decreasing safety in Florida for the LGBTQ community. 

“I fully anticipate other firings,” Gold said, “and we will certainly track that to see if indeed a pattern is emerging.” 

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