Nov 15, 2023 - News

Inside New College of Florida's $400 million transformation plan

A navy billboard that reads: "CLASSICAL WISDOM, MODERN SKILLS New College of Florida | ncf.edu"

An example of proposed branding for New College. Photo: Screenshot, New College of Florida business plan

New College of Florida is seeking $400 million in state funding over the next five years to carry out a vision by state leaders to transform the college into a "world-class classical liberal arts education institution," according to a business plan presented last week to a state board.

Why it matters: The plan puts a hefty price tag on the shift in direction for the college that began in January, when Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed six conservative members to the school's governing board.

Driving the news: New College president Richard Corcoran presented the plan last week to the Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system. Any state funding will be subject to approval by the Florida Legislature and DeSantis.

The big picture: The plan sets a goal for enrollment to increase from the current 730 students to 1,200 within five years.

  • It calls for more student housing, an expansion of the burgeoning athletics department and new academic programs — including a new master's program that aims to teach students how to bring the "reformation at New College" to other schools.

Here's a round-up of some of the plan's priorities:

Academic programs

  • Establishing the New College Freedom Institute to combat what Corcoran previously called "a tremendous cancel culture" in higher education.
  • Establishing the Florida Institute of Marine Mammal Science that will offer a master's degree in marine mammal science.
  • Adding master's degrees in environmental economics and policy as well as educational leadership.
  • The latter program would "serve as a new home for education reformers" who want to fix what the document says is an academic system that has "become corrupted with political agendas."

Athletics

  • Remodeling the campus fitness center to "house a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning facility."
  • Increasing student-athlete enrollment from this fall's 152 students to 350 by 2027.
  • Adding sports including bass fishing, lacrosse and dance to the college's athletics offerings.

Campus infrastructure

  • Hacking away at $61 million in deferred maintenance projects.
  • Adding enough dorm space to support 1,000 students. The college is seeking forgiveness of $20 million in housing debt to help fund the expansion.
  • Taking over the Sarasota Classic Car Museum for redevelopment. The college ended the museum's lease in May.
  • Opening restaurants on campus.

Between the lines: The liberal arts school has previously struggled to get even a fraction of the investment called for in the business plan, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

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