Faculty At Florida Liberal Arts College Votes To Censure DeSantis-Backed Trustees

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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New College of Florida (NCF) faculty voted to censure the board of trustees on Monday, according to a letter to college officials from faculty chair Amy Reid.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis voted to appoint six conservative members to the board of trustees in January who have since made several changes to the school including replacing its president with former Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and eliminating its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) office. Approximately 80% of New College faculty voted to censure the board in a motion that included 13 complaints, according to the Tampa Bay Times. (RELATED: Professor Says He ‘Would Burn’ Down Florida College In Resignation Letter)

The faculty chose to vote to censure the board, which identifies “specific … inappropriate conduct,” rather than a vote of no confidence, which “communicates a general lack of support,” because it allows the board to consider changes, according to the letter. The motion accused the board of “failing in their fiduciary duties” to care for the college’s reputation and well-being of students and staff and of “endangering the College’s ability to fulfill its mission” which includes preparing students for “great achievement” and offering a “liberal arts education of the highest quality.”

“A number of the items outlined in the censure are false,” an NCF spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The vote was taken because of the fear of the unknown and I think their concerns will subside once the faculty see how all of the changes we are making at New College are moving us in a direction of improvement and future stability for our campus.”

The motion accuses trustee Matthew Spalding, also a Hillsdale College professor, of communicating with Corcoran outside of the publicly held meeting to name him interim president, according to the letter. It also accuses trustees Christopher Rufo, Mark Bauerlein and Eddie Speir of not disclosing “financial conflict of interests” and Rufo, alone, of not cooperating with public records requests related to his work at the Florida campus.

It might have been the [American Association of University Professors] put out a charge of corruption because New College has adopted the [Classic Learning Test] exam as an option to go along with the ACT and SAT exam for admissions, and I helped the CLT exam. I helped them develop the exam many years ago,” Bauerlein told the DCNF. “I think it’s a great exam. I think it’s a great option but I don’t get any more from them.”

Another complaint alleges a majority of the board rejected tenure cases with no explanation, while another accuses Rufo and Speir of making “disparaging and unprofessional comments on social media and in news media about New College students, staff, and community members.” The trustees were also accused of ignoring community members who speak at public meetings and “communicating a lack of respect and care to the public including taxpayers,” according to the letter.

“In less than 90 days, a significant portion of the faculty are aligning with all efforts for New College to become the best liberal arts college in the country,” the NCF spokesperson said. “It’s a process and a time of transition and with that always comes resistance to change, but I am confident in the direction we are heading and I know they will see that progress too.”

Reid Rufo, Spalding and Speir did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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