Applause Erupts After Florida College Trustee Abruptly Resigns Over Conflict With DeSantis-Backed Board Members

(Screenshot/YouTube/New College of Florida)

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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New College of Florida trustee Matthew Lepinski announced on Wednesday that he is resigning from his position after trustees appointed by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made several changes to the campus this semester, according to the event livestream.

DeSantis appointed six members to the Board of Trustees in January to tip the political leaning of the board in the conservative direction. Lepinski cited concern with “the direction that this board is going” and “the destabilization of the academic program” in his decision to leave, the video shows. (RELATED: ‘Liberate The Mind’: DeSantis Appointee Shares Vision For New College Of Florida)

“I wish you the best of luck but this is my last board meeting. I’m leaving the college,” Lepinski said.

He then stood up from his chair and walked away from the table as members of the audience applauded. The meeting was adjourned moments later.

The board of trustees made waves during its first meeting of the semester when it voted to fire Patricia Okker, former college president, in favor of Richard Corcoran, current interim president, who previously served as education commissioner under the DeSantis administration. The board has since axed a college office that was dedicated to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and banned diversity statements from being used to consider an applicant during the hiring process.

The board voted 6-4 during the meeting to deny early tenure to five faculty members, Florida’s Voice reported. Lepinski cast a vote to approve tenure for the faculty members before making his resignation announcement.

“I wish Dr. Lepinski well and look forward to recruiting his replacement,” Christopher Rufo, a DeSantis-appointed trustee, tweeted after the meeting. “We are restoring classical liberal arts education at New College and any faculty that prefer the old system of unfettered left-wing activism and a rubber-stamp board are free to self-select out.”

Provost Suzanne Sherman resigned from her role in March. She had previously sparred with Rufo and Eddie Speir, another DeSantis-appointed trustee, because they would not cancel a January public event after receiving a threat.

“Turnover is to be expected—even welcomed,” Rufo tweeted. “But we are making rapid, significant progress.”

New College of Florida and Lepinski did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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