DeSantis appoints Joe Jacquot to New College Board of Trustees after failed Senate confirmation of Eddie Speir

by | May 22, 2023

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed former General Counsel member Joe Jacquot to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees after the Senate failed to confirm Eddie Speir earlier this month.
  • The Board of Trustees is being revamped to reshape the university’s historically left-leaning politics and address issues like declining enrollment and poor financial statements.
  • The reformation also includes eliminating diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiatives and elements of critical race theory from university-wide curricula.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed former General Counsel member Joe Jacquot to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees. The move comes after the Florida Senate failed to confirm the previously-tapped Eddie Speir to the university’s board earlier this month.

Pending Senate confirmation, Jacquot would join New College’s recently-revamped Board of Trustees, aimed at reshaping the historically left-leaning politics of the university. Currently a Shareholder at Gunster Law Firm, Jacquot also previously served as DeSantis’ chief ethics officer.

Led by DeSantis, the Board underwent reform in response to declining enrollment rates, low graduation rates, and poor financial statements. Specifically, the Trustees, in collaboration with the governor’s office, have taken action to amend university-wide curricula by eliminating diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiatives, as well as elements of critical race theory.

“Unfortunately, like so many colleges and universities in America, this institution has been completely captured by a political ideology that puts trendy, truth-relative concepts above learning,” Former DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin told The Capitolist. “In particular, New College of Florida has reached a moment of critical mass, wherein low student enrollment and other financial stresses have emerged from its skewed focus and impractical course offerings.”

Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz helped fuel New College’s political makeover, stating that he hopes that New College will “become Florida’s classical college, more along the lines of a Hillsdale of the South.”

During the final days of this year’s Legislative Session, Senate lawmakers opted not to vote on Speir’s confirmation to the New College Board. Consequentially, Speir’s position remains unconfirmed among the five other recently appointed and confirmed individuals, which includes activist Christopher Rufo.

In response, Speir alleged that former Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran, who was recently brought on to serve as the university’s interim President, used his political clout to prevent his full confirmation.

“I just found out that the full Florida Senate did not confirm me as a Trustee of New College of Florida. While the reasoning given to me was that I ruffled some feathers in the Senate, I don’t believe that for one second,” said Speir. “I am confident it was [Richard Corcoran] working with his political allies to block me.”

Spier attracted negative attention in January shortly after his initial appointment when he publicly called to demote former President Pam Okker and terminate the contracts of all faculty, staff, and administration associated with New College.

“I move that we as a board approve a letter to the new counsel of this board to ask for a legal opinion regarding our ability to declare a financial emergency and employ a zero-based budgeting policy of terminating all contracts for faculty, staff, and administration and immediately rehiring those faculty, staff, and administration who fit in the new financial and business model,” wrote Speir on a Substack post.

New College’s Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet next on June 1. Jacquot is already listed as a member of the Board on the university’s website, filling the space left vacant by Speir’s failure to be confirmed.


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