SARASOTA, FLORIDA — New members of the board of trustees at New College of Florida are proposing major changes to the state-funded liberal arts school. Trustees Christopher Rufo, a prominent conservative journalist, and Eddie Spier, founder of a private Christian school in Bradenton, have called for radical changes to overhaul the declining college.
A RADICAL SHIFT FOR A RADICAL COLLEGE
On January 6, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of six new members to the New College board of trustees, including Rufo, Speir, Dr. Matthew Spalding, Dr. Charles R. Kesler, Dr. Mark Bauerlein and Debra Jenks. The appointees represent a conservative shift in leadership for the far-Left school that abolished traditional grades in favor of written evaluations.
In a Twitter post Rufo stated that one of his initial goals is to replace Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives at New College with “equality, merit and colorblindness.” Rufo is also working to abolish DEI at public universities across the country due to racial discrimination in admissions.
Spier outlined several proposed initiatives in his Substack blog on Sunday, including a call for “a zero-based budgeting policy of terminating all contracts for faculty, staff and administration.” He added that those “who fit in the new financial and business model” would be immediately rehired.
In addition to an overhaul of faculty and staff, Spier asked that the board discuss “the need for a new president.” He also wants the school to become “more flexible and nimbler in our hiring process.”
BANNING THE LOCAL PAPER
Another proposal sought to “remove USA Today and its affiliates from the list of approved media outlets until an apology is received with a commitment from USA Today to adhere to its own policies.”
The resolution appears to be driven by Spier’s frustration with an editor from the USA Today-owned Herald Tribune. Spier published a blog post on Saturday, airing his frustration with Zac Anderson, the Tribune’s political editor, and the paper’s delay in removing a comment that called for students to “welcome” the new board members with “rotten eggs, tomatoes and dog poop.”
“STANDING UP FOR OPEN DISCOURSE”
On Thursday, Rufo and Spier visited the New College campus to address faculty, staff and students. New College President Patricia Okker and Provost Suzanne Sherman attempted to shut down the meeting, citing an email threat addressed to Spier.
Rufo and Spier dismissed the threat and insisted on continuing with the meeting so as to present a strong, unintimidated posture. Rufo also posted the exchange with Sherman and his opening remarks to those in attendance on Twitter and YouTube.
“We cannot allow those who threaten violence to shut down the democratic governance of our public institutions. We need to have the courage to stand up for open discourse,” Rufo wrote in a tweet. “I appreciate all of the faculty, students, and staff who attended these conversations. Lots of common ground.”