- The Florida State University System has appointed Richard Corcoran, the former state Commissioner of Education, as the interim President of New College of Florida.
- Just two board members voted against the appointment, citing the exorbitant salary and potential negative precedent.
- Corcoran’s annual salary of $699,000 plus other benefits is $400,000 more than his predecessor, and questions have arisen about the high figure and its potential impact on future administrative candidate searches.
The Florida State University System has approved the contract to appoint Richard Corcoran, the former state Commissioner of Education, as the interim President of New College of Florida.
Just two members of the board — Jose Oliva and Deanna Michael — voted against the contract, stating that the total sum paid out to Corcoran is exorbitant and sets an improper precedent.
As interim, Corcoran — who did not appear at the meeting — will earn a salary of $699,000 annually alongside $84,000 in housing allowance. Stipulations within his contract also include 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 at a recent university Board of Trustees meeting, 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 is set to serve 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.
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.
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 Bauerlein, Debra Jenks, and Jason “Eddie” Speir, who all hold conservative backgrounds.