On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of six new members to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees in order to break the institution away from Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) focused learning and align the college in the mold of Hillsdale College in Michigan, a private Christian classical liberal arts college rooted in the pursuit of scholarship and understanding "timeless truths," according to their website.
New appointees are Senior Manhattan Institute Fellow Christopher Rufo, Hillsdale College Professor Matthew Spalding, PhD, Claremont-McKenna College professor Charles R. Kesler, AB, AM, PhD, Emory University Professor Mark Bauerlein, PhD, Attorney Debra Jenks, and co-founder of Inspiration Academy Jason "Eddie" Speir. These appointments must go through the Florida Senate to be confirmed.
"The New College of Florida is a public institution with a statutorily stated mission of 'provid[ing] a quality education.' 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. 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," said DeSantis Communications Director Taryn Fenske.
In 2001, the New College was designated by the Florida Legislature as the "Honors College for the State of Florida."
Since then though, the college has become a teaching place for DEI initiatives, in which their value statement declares that "New College is on an ongoing journey to become a place where people can experience a sense of belonging and exist in their fullness no matter their human attributes."
"We seek a balance between recognizing and celebrating difference, respectfully supporting each other’s growth, and ensuring that historically marginalized and oppressed groups are not experiencing trauma and harm. We acknowledge that we do not always get this balance right, but we are committed to engaging in difficult conversations that consider a multiplicity of voices to build a more inclusive community on and off campus. New College values equity and is actively working toward eliminating outcome disparities for underrepresented and underserved groups. Above all, we commit to coming together to make changes to support everyone’s goals, needs, and humanity," the value statement added.
In the 2022 Florida Statutes, the school states that its mission is to "provide a quality education to students of high ability who, because of their ability, deserve a program of study that is both demanding and stimulating," and to "To challenge students not only to master existing bodies of knowledge but also to extend the frontiers of knowledge through original research," among other goals.
"As Governor DeSantis stated in his second inaugural speech: 'We must ensure that our institutions of higher learning are focused on academic excellence and the pursuit of truth.' Starting today, the ship is turning around. New College of Florida, under the governor’s new appointees, will be refocused on its founding mission of providing a world-class quality education with an exceptional focus on the classics," said DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin.
DeSantis Chief of Staff James Uthmeier said, "It is our hope that New College of Florida will become Florida’s classical college, more along the lines of a Hillsdale of the South."
The school offers a number of DEI-focused programs, activities, and groups, including the Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, a Gender Studies Program, their Gender and Diversity Center, and celebrates "Latinx Heritage Month.
Additionally, the campus offers a "Queery Club," which "serves to maintain New College as a safe place for LGBTQ+ identified individuals and their allies to socialize and engage with the larger community," and a "T Party Club," of which has a goal to "provide a secure place for transgender student[s] to support each other and bond over a common aspect of our identity."
The school also provides students with "gender identity affirmation resources," which include information as to how students can change their names, pronouns, and note legal name changes on their college accounts.
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