New College interim president Richard Corcoran addresses controversies, presidential bid in Tampa

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Richard Corcoran
Richard Corcoran speaks to press after addressing the Tiger Bay Club in West Tampa // Chris Young /WMNF News, 9/15/23

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New College Interim President Richard Corcoran addressed a political forum in West Tampa today.

Corcoran is currently the interim president during New College’s conservative restructuring. He previously was appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis as Florida’s Commissioner of Education. He’s one of three in the running for the position of president at New College.

“I will tell you I do believe I’m uniquely qualified because I do, and I have exhibited, I’ve been through a lot of things nobody has. I was the one who had to open up schools with the governor during COVID.”

He said when he came to New College, the school had gone off its tracks.

“The school’s leadership was absolutely, politely and kindly said, a mess”.

He’s faced controversy. He was at the center of an alleged bid-rigging investigation for Jefferson County School district. He called the investigation hogwash. He also faced national scrutiny for creating an environment at the school that some call hostile to minorities.

Tracy Ferro is a parent of a student that left New College. She was offended Cocoran’s call for society to be more kind.

“It really got under my skin. Because I’ve seen the way all of our kids, my own included, have been treated.”

In July, the Tampa Bay Times reported that more than a third of the faculty left New College within the past year.

But Corcoran says there’s more to the story.

“You know they talk about this ‘massive faculty leave New College’ -it’s just not true. We’ve had about 36 people, faculty members, leave New College. It’s a lot. Of those 36, there’s resignations, retirements, leaves of absences, different types of leaves of absences: sabbaticals, research leaves, what have you.”

MSNBC reports The U.S. Education Department said its Office for Civil Rights is investigating allegations that the school has discriminated against people with disabilities.

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