New College Board of Trustees denies early tenure to some faculty, extending controversy

Christopher Rufo on the Board of Trustees seen laughing as the board discusses mascots to the chagrin of the audience. By Josh Holton/WMNF via YouTube (04/27/2023)

The New College of Florida Board of Trustees voted 7 to 4 Wednesday afternoon to deny tenure to five faculty members. Students and some board members worry about what this could mean for the future of the liberal arts college.

The vote followed an intense debate among the Trustees. Six of them were appointed by Governor DeSantis in January in an effort to create what he calls a classical education at New College. The Trustees were frequently interrupted by heckling from the crowd of students and others during the nearly 3 hour-long meeting. About 50 members of the public spoke in favor of retaining the professors by awarding them tenure. One student Brendan Hirsch called out a tweet by new conservative activist on the board Christopher Rufo.

“Maya Angelou once said, ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’ Let me read a tweet from our own Chris Rufo, quote, ‘We have successfully frozen their brand Critical Race Theory to the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic as we put all of the various cultural insanities under this brand category. The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think of Critical Race Theory. We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.’ When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

During his report, interim president Richard Corcoran drew laughter when he touted rosy enrollment prospects and attracting new faculty. But Corcoran argued against tenure in light of his plan to overhaul the curriculum. One of the longer-term Trustees, New College professor Matthew Lepinski said the extraordinary changes bring the college to a sensitive moment.

“…where we also need a little bit of stability. And I’m concerned about the way that we might risk destabilizing programs to the detriment of our current students, if we go and categorically deny tenure to people who have demonstrated loyalty to the school.”

 The Board of Trustee’s legal counsel said the professors were eligible to reapply for tenure next year. Still, the majority of the board voted to deny early tenure for five applicants. That move prompted Lepinski to quit.

“I’m very concerned about the direction that this board is going, and the destabilization of the academic program. And so I wish you the best of luck, but this is my last board meeting. I’m leaving the college.”

Lepinski offered no further explanation for his resignation. The meeting adjourned with a crowd shouting “shame on you” at the remaining Trustees.

Watch the full meeting here:

You may also like

LGBTQ via WMNF iStock subscription
Florida appeals a judge’s ruling blocking the state’s restrictions on medical treatment for transgender individuals

Florida has appealed a federal judge’s ruling that blocked state...

homeowner's insurance
Citizens Property Insurance supports rate hikes for its customers

Citizens Property Insurance Board of Governors backed a proposal for...

Tampa’s Fearless Four Fought Discrimination in City Employment

MidPoint learns the history of The Fearless Four: four Black...

Tropical Storm Alberto brings flood risk to Texas; Florida monitors another disturbance

Two weather systems to watch: Tropical Storm Alberto in the...

Ways to listen

WMNF is listener-supported. That means we don't advertise like a commercial station, and we're not part of a university.

Ways to support

WMNF volunteers have fun providing a variety of needed services to keep your community radio station alive and kickin'.

Follow us on Instagram

The Morning Show Thursday
Player position: