Jan 9, 2023 - News

Gov. Ron DeSantis shakes up New College of Florida board

"New College of Florida," Sarasota, Florida. (Photo by Independent Picture Service/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

New College of Florida in Sarasota. Photo: Independent Picture Service/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed six conservatives to the board of trustees of New College of Florida last week, in an effort to transform the liberal arts school into a conservative institution.

  • His appointments included Christopher Rufo, an activist who helped turn critical race theory into a conservative rallying cry, and Matthew Spalding, a dean at conservative Hillsdale College in southern Michigan.

Why it matters: New College, which has more than 700 students and 90 full-time faculty, is regarded as the most progressive college in the state.

  • It is the Honors College of Florida, known for not giving grades and graduating smart problem solvers and thinkers.

What they're saying: "We must ensure that our institutions of higher learning are focused on academic excellence and the pursuit of truth, not the imposition of trendy ideology," DeSantis said during his inaugural speech last week.

  • Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said he wants New College to be "more along the lines of a Hillsdale of the south," per the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Context: Hillsdale College is working to expand its network of public charter schools — focusing on "the centrality of the Western tradition" — across the country, per the New York Times.

  • The college developed the "1776 Curriculum," K-12 civics and U.S. history teachings inspired by former President Trump's 1776 Commission. The commission produced a report that served as a conservative response to the New York Times' "1619 Project" on the legacy of slavery in America.

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