The New College of Florida Board of Trustees on Monday approved a contract for Richard Corcoran to become the school’s interim president, including a $699,000 base salary.
Corcoran, a Republican former speaker of the Florida House and state education commissioner, will replace former New College President Patricia Okker.
Corcoran’s term is slated to begin Feb. 27 and will run through September 2024 if a permanent president hasn’t been selected before then.
The leadership change came after DeSantis last month revamped the board by appointing six conservative members.
The revamped board decided Jan. 31 to remove Okker.
Corcoran will have a base salary that is far higher than the $305,000 base salary that the state university system’s Board of Governors approved for Okker in June 2021.
Trustee Sarah Mackie, who was not part of the recent wave of DeSantis appointees, supported Corcoran’s selection but questioned the hefty salary. “I do understand (Corcoran) is coming into a very contentious situation, so he needs to be compensated.
And we have the funds, which is great. But what kind of standard does this set for when we get our permanent president?” Mackie said.
Debra Jenks, one of the new DeSantis appointees to the board, called Corcoran “the leader that we need” and said he has the political ties to help secure money for New College. “The current offerings are an unattractive mix of mostly low return-on-investment programs, frankly one-sided education. And we need to go back to that work to re-establish the educational excellence standard,” Jenks said.
Corcoran’s contract also will allow him to earn 15 percent of his base salary in “incentive compensation” upon the board’s approval, as well as allotting him $84,000 a year in a housing allowance and $12,000 a year for an automobile allowance.
©2023 The News Service of Florida