SARASOTA, FLORIDA — Two weeks ago, New College of Florida’s Board of Directors announced its intentions to abolish the institution’s gender studies program. Since then, the school’s only full-time gender studies professor has quit, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
“I’m so grateful to have had five years to cheer them [students] on and see them progress from their first uncertain attempts to speak up in class to embracing their brilliance while completing theses,” said outgoing professor Nicholas Clarkson.
“ONE OF 40 PROFESSORS AND STAFF”
“I’m grateful to the robust community of colleagues who have shared resources, experiential wisdom, and conversations about the scholarship of teaching and learning that have supported my continued growth as an educator. But now Florida is the state where learning goes to die,” he added.
Clarkson – in his letter to New College of Florida interim President Richard Corcoran – stated that he is one of 40 professors and staff who are leaving the school.
The change to New College’s philosophy comes after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appointed six new members to the board, most notably Christopher Rufo, a writer at City Journal and fellow at the Manhattan Institute, who said that the gender studies program is "wildly contradictory" to the school’s newfound mission of reviving “a classical liberal arts agenda.”
Rufo stated that New College became the first school in the country to actively shut down a program like gender studies.
“We are the first public university in America to begin rolling back the encroachment of queer theory and gender pseudoscience into academic life,” Rufo said.
The school was once known as one of the most progressive public universities in the state, but then-President Patricia Okker was fired in February and replaced with Corcoran.
On top of the New College changes, a professor at Florida State University penned an op-ed in the Tallahassee Democrat Monday announcing he is leaving the school due to a “hostile” environment.
Dr. Walter R. Boot, Jr. was a professor of psychology and stated that students who are “Black, trans, gay or lesbian, queer, or who belong to any other group” are “under siege by the state of Florida” and the “siege” is the cause of his departure.
Boot began the op-ed by citing the Parental Rights in Education law signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022. He continued by claiming that he had had a meeting with FSU President Richard McCullough who told Boot that, “If I say or do anything, I will be fired, and my replacement will be worse.”
This is the second FSU professor in recent months to depart from the school in a public fashion.
In April of 2023, FSU criminology professor Eric Stewart abruptly left the school after allegations of academic fraud in his years-long study of race in the criminal justice system. Stewart was first accused of falsifying data in 2019 by Professor Justin Pickett of the University of Albany, who co-authored a 2011 study with Stewart.