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New College gets interim president amid conservative push

CORRECTION New College Conservatives
Posted at 11:19 AM, Feb 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-14 11:19:09-05

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — The New College of Florida board of trustees — now dominated by conservatives chosen by Gov. Ron DeSantis — voted Monday to approve hiring a DeSantis ally as the interim president.

The trustees agreed to an 18-month contract with Richard Corcoran that will pay him $699,000 a year, which is about $400,000 more than the previous president earned at the school in Sarasota, Florida. The contract also calls for an $84,000 housing allowance and $12,000 for vehicle costs.

Corcoran, a Republican, is a former state House speaker and education commissioner who also served on the state Board of Governors that oversees Florida's university system. The appointment comes after DeSantis appointed six new conservative trustees tasked with transforming the New College, long known as a progressive institution and haven for LGBTQ students.

“He will be the person that can take us from where we are now to where we need to be," said Debra Jenks, the trustees' chair and one of the governor's new appointees.

Several students and faculty spoke to the board, which decided to hold public comment after approving Corcoran for the job. That move, and the appointment overall led some students to speak out against the school's new, conservative push.

“The students don’t want this. But I know we’re not the people you intend to please. You want to pull our school out by its roots," said student Cooper Wright. "I don’t want to be part of a grand experiment.”

Corcoran’s appointment is subject to approval by the Board of Governors. Jenks said a more exhaustive search will be undertaken to find a permanent New College president.