New College interim president Richard Corcoran given permanent position

by | Oct 3, 2023

  • The New College of Florida Board of Trustees appointed Richard Corcoran, former state Commissioner of Education, as the school’s next leader, despite efforts by faculty and student trustees to delay the decision.
  • Corcoran was given the role ahead of fellow candidates Tyler Fisher and Robert Gervasi.
  • Corcoran has served as New College’s interim president since March.

The New College of Florida Board of Trustees voted to appoint former state Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, who has been serving as president in an interim capacity since March, as the school’s next leader.

Despite a push by faculty and student trustees to delay the motion, Board members voted in an overwhelming majority to give Corcoran the permanent role. Corcoran was named a finalist for the position in August alongside Tyler Fisher, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida, and Robert Gervasi, the former interim president at the University of Mount Union.

New College student body President Grace Keenan, who advocated for a delay to Tuesday’s vote, contended that Fisher was the most popular candidate among students.

“Congratulations to Mr. Corcoran, who will lead the college’s continued transformation and the restoration of the classical liberal arts in the State of Florida,” said Trustee Christopher Rufo, a leading anti-Critical Race Theory activist appointed to the university’s Board in January.

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

The salary figure marked a $400,000 dollar increase over New College’s previous president Pam Okker, who was ousted following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ appointment of six new Trustees to the university’s board. New College trustees will now negotiate new contract details with Corcoran ahead of his official start date.

Corcoran’s selection to the role caps a months-long reformation of New College’s framework, initiated by DeSantis appointed Rufo, Matthew Spalding, Dr. Charles R. Kesler, Dr. Mark BauerleinDebra Jenks, and Jason “Eddie” Speir, who each hold conservative leanings, to ideologically shift the college’s traditionally liberal leaning.

Spier was ultimately left off of the university’s Board following a failed Senate confirmation. He is now challenging Rep. Vern Buchanan in the 2024 election cycle.

“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,” then-DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin said in a statement to The Capitolist upon the appointments. “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 went even further, stating that he hopes that New College of Florida will “become Florida’s classical college, more along the lines of a Hillsdale of the South.”


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