New College Board of Trustees approve of contract for Richard Corcoran, appoint him as interim president

by | Feb 13, 2023

  • Richard Corcoran was approved as the interim President of New College of Florida by the college’s Board of Trustees.
  • He is slated to act as interim until September 1, 2024 or until a permanent president is selected.
  • As interim, Corcoran will earn a salary of $699,000 annually, along with an $84,000 housing allowance, a $12,000 automobile stipend, and an annual retirement supplement of $104,850.
  • The appointment of Corcoran, a former Republican House speaker and close ally to Governor Ron DeSantis, marks an ideological overhaul of the college, which has faced low student enrollment, low graduation rates, and poor financial statements in recent years.

A contract to establish former Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran as New College of Florida’s interim President was approved by the college’s Board of Trustees on Monday.

Corcoran is slated to act as interim until September 1, 2024, or until the New College selects a permanent president. The university will launch a national search for a permanent leader and Corcoran is expected to be in contention, having stated a desire to become a college president in the past.

As interim, Corcoran will earn a salary of $699,000 annually alongside $84,000 in housing allowance. The Tampa Bay Times further reported that Corcoran’s contract includes a $12,000 automobile stipend and an annual retirement supplement of $104,850.

The salary figure marks a $400,000 dollar increase over New College’s previous president, Pam Okker, who was ousted late last month following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ appointment of six new Trustees to the university’s board.

For comparison, Ben Sasse, the former U.S. Senator now serving as the University of Florida’s President, earns a salary of $1 million per year.

New College Student Government President Grace Keenan expressed concern over the large salary, questioning if the school had the funds to pay out the contract before being reassured. Questions also arose surrounding the precedence that would be set and whether the high figure would hamper future searches for administrative candidates.

Corcoran, a former Republican House speaker, was a close ally to DeSantis while serving as education commissioner and spearheaded initiatives to remove critical race theory from classrooms across the state.

Since leaving the commissioner’s post last year, Corcoran has worked at the consulting firm Continental Strategy. He also made an unsuccessful bid in 2021 to succeed John Thrasher and become Florida State University’s president.

The move comes as New College faces an ideological overhaul following DeSantis’ appointment of Christopher Rufo, a conservative activist best known for his criticisms of Critical Race Theory, to New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees, among five others.

Alongside Rufo, DeSantis tapped Matthew Spalding, Dr. Charles R. Kesler, Dr. Mark BauerleinDebra Jenks, and Jason “Eddie” Speir, who all hold conservative backgrounds.

New College has been marked by low student enrollment rates, low graduation rates, and poor financial statements in recent years, leading the Governor to take action, according to his office.

“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,” DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin said in a statement to 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.”

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    Such BS. The New College is a small honors college, rigors acceptance standards and is considered one of the best smallest liberal arts colleges in the country.
    They fired the beloved African American President or forced her to resign so she could keep her pension. She was replaced by a right wing extremist politician as was the entire board. Facts please.

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