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We get first-hand reactions to what's unfolding at New College of Florida

Cathy Carter / WUSF Public Media
New College of Florida students, alumni, faculty, and parents protesting changes to the school put in place by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed six new trustees at New College of Florida in January and they have already begun radically changing the state’s public honors college. Their first step was replacing the school’s president, Patricia Okker, with Richard Corcoran — a former Republican speaker of the Florida State House and DeSantis’s first Commissioner of Education — and paying him nearly $400,000 more than his predecessor. Their second step was abolishing the office at New College that handles diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

Critics say it all amounts to a conservative overhaul of the small, traditionally progressive college with about 700 students.

One of the new trustees, right-wing activist Christopher Rufo, recently tweeted: “We will be shutting down low-performing, ideologically-captured academic departments and hiring new faculty. The student body will be recomposed over time: some current students will self-select out, others will graduate; we’ll recruit new students who are mission-aligned.”

We spoke last Wednesday with a current professor, a current student, and a New College alumnus, to get their reactions to what’s unfolding.


Miriam Wallace, Professor of English at New College of Florida.

Libby (Catherine) Harrity, a 2nd year student at New College studying Political Science and French Language & Culture, and the school’s Student Senate President.

Dr. Glenn Whitehouse, Associate Dean Student Affairs, and Associate Professor, in the College of Arts & Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University; and a New College of Florida graduate.

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