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Small New England college offers New College students a transfer

Hampshire Collefge.jpg
Hampshire College
Special to WGCU
Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass.

A college in New England is offering to match tuition costs to students who wish to leave Florida's New College.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed six new trustees at New College of Florida in January with the new officials immediately and radically changing the state’s public honors college.

The school’s president, Patricia Okker, was replaced by former Republican speaker of the Florida State House and DeSantis’s first Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran — paying him nearly $400,000 more than his predecessor — and secondly, abolished the office at New College that handles diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

Critics of those moves have called them a conservative overhaul of the small, traditionally progressive college with about 700 students.

About the New College issue: Gulf Coast Life talks to a current professor, a current student, and a New College alumnus to get their reactions to what’s unfolding.

Additionally, 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.”

In the wake of those actions, the Amherst, Massachusetts college is making an offer to New College students looking to transfer out.

"Hampshire College is pleased to offer admission to any New College of Florida student, matching their current cost of tuition. We support New College of Florida students who would like to continue their education without losing any credits, without increasing their current tuition costs, and without having to give up on self-designed education and narrative evaluations," the college posted on their Facebook page.

In explaining the move, Hampshire College said on its website: "This opportunity is in response to the continuing attacks on New College of Florida intended to limit intellectual exploration, turn back progress toward inclusion, and curtail open discussion of race, injustice, and histories of oppression. By committing to impose a narrowly politicized curriculum on New College, the newly appointed trustees broke promises made to its current students to support a self-directed, rigorous education grounded in a commitment to free inquiry."

New College Conservatives Protest
Rebecca Blackwell/AP
New College of Florida students and supporters protest ahead of a meeting by the college's board of trustees, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Sarasota, Fla. The conservative-dominated board of trustees of Florida's public honors college was meeting Tuesday to take up a measure making wholesale changes in the school's diversity, equity and inclusion programs and offices. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

The college website also includes a transfer form specifically labeled for New College students.

The nearly 60-year-old college, founded as a liberal arts institution, is described as "unconventional" on its website: "... and we’re organized in a way that’s different from any other college in the world."

Progress at Hampshire College, its website explains, comes via feedback and review: "We don’t think grades are an accurate or effective measurement. Instead, your performance is assessed with constructive, written feedback from faculty members, and based on reviews of your projects, your engagement in classes and community, your writings, your art, and more."

Details of the Hampshire transfer offer include:

  • Guaranteed admission to currently matriculated students who are in good standing at New College of Florida, including those who may be on a leave of absence. 
  • Students interested in transferring to Hampshire can submit their materials on a rolling basis until August 1.
  • Students can apply using the New College of Florida Transfer Form.
  • Students are required to complete the transfer form (which includes a brief statement of academic purpose called “Proposed Program of Study”), and provide their official New College of Florida transcript.
  • Acceptance of academic credits completed at or transferred to New College of Florida to fulfill Hampshire’s Division I and II requirements in order to facilitate timely degree completion.
  • Hampshire College will determine a financial aid package for each student using its typical packaging formulas to bring the student’s net tuition for 2023–24 at Hampshire to an amount equal to the student’s current cost of tuition billed by New College of Florida in 2022–23. Students applying for or receiving need-based assistance must complete the 2023–24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • New College of Florida students will need to provide official transcripts (New College of Florida and Final High School or equivalent) and copies of their most recent aid offer and New College bills.

Hampshire College officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday after inclement weather forced the school to close.
WGCU's Mike Kiniry contributed to this report. WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.