Breaking: DeSantis Shakes Up Leadership of Woke Florida College, Appoints Conservative Majority

Governor Ron DeSantis appointed six new members to the New College of Florida's Board of Trustees on Friday, directing the new conservative majority to reorient a public university that has been led astray by progressive ideologues in recent years.

In 2001, the New College of Florida (NCF) was designated the state's honors college by the Florida legislature. Since then, the school has increasingly embraced progressive ideological causes, such as expanding DEI initiatives, all while missing its 2022 enrollment goal by 45 percent.

DeSantis's six appointees are Christopher Rufo, Mark Bauerlein, Matthew Spalding, Charles Kesler, Debra Jenks, and Jason "Eddie" Speir. Several are well-known conservatives.

Rufo is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and is best known for his activism against critical race theory in K-12, corporations, and higher education. Spalding is vice president of the graduate school of government at Hillsdale College in Washington, D.C. and has published books on the Constitution and the founding. Kesler is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and editor of the Claremont Review of Books, a quarterly conservative publication of political philosophy, history, and literature.

While they must first be confirmed by the GOP-controlled state senate, the selections appear to be sympathetic to the governor's plan to refocus NCF. The board, which exists for every college in the state university system, is responsible for providing direction to advance the school's mission, while adhering to the requirements and regulations of the Board of Governors (BOG), which is also largely appointed by the governor. The governor directly appoints 14 of 17 members of the BOG and six of 13 members on the BOT.

“As Governor DeSantis stated in his second inaugural speech: ‘We must ensure that our institutions of higher learning are focused on academic excellence and the pursuit of truth.’ Starting today, the ship is turning around. New College of Florida, under the governor's new appointees, will be refocused on its founding mission of providing a world-class quality education with an exceptional focus on the classics,” Bryan Griffin, DeSantis press secretary, told National Review.

The BOT has the power to act without recommendation from the president of the college and to fire the president, currently Patricia Okker. It can also "adopt a strategic plan specifying institutional goals and objectives that are in alignment with the College's mission." On the matter of curricula, the BOT decides whether to establish or discontinue degree programs and course offerings, according to NCF bylaws. Alongside two others not up for appointment who support DeSantis's strategy and another who is expected to be replaced soon, the new BOT appointees can, with their majority power, theoretically target progressive programming at the school.

On its website, the college dedicates a page to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, touting its gender studies program, gender diversity center, Black History Month activities, and LGBT student groups.

Students who major in Gender Studies at NCF complete an internship with one of several organizations, including, notably, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. A featured student testimony noted that the program helped propel them "into a successful career in the realm of political organizing." The department promotes the course, "Queer Studies," through which students "apply sociological insight as we attempt to better understand the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, as well as how the existence of 'queer'-ness affects our understanding of all of social life."

The program's faculty appear to be well-credentialed in gender ideology. For example, one assistant professor received a bachelors, masters, and Ph.D. degree in Gender Studies before he went on to teach the so-called discipline at various universities, ending at NCF. His current class offerings include "Introduction to Gender Studies," "Feminist, Queer, and Trans Theory," "Masculinities," and "Gender, Race, and Surveillance." The professor has had work published in a number of publications, including an article titled "Penis is Important for That," in a collection of essays titled, Why Are Faggots so Afraid of Faggots: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification and the Desire to Conform.

Beginning in fall 2021, the college reportedly provided at orientation a list of "Gender Identity Affirmation Resources," including locations for gender-neutral bathrooms on campus and instruction on how to designate preferred gender pronouns. Another professor within NCF's gender-studies program, Queen Meccasia Zabriskie, also spearheaded the college's Black History Month, which expanded last year to include an event nearly every day from February 1 to March 5. Last year's theme was "black healing."

The NCF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to several other state schools, NCF could face scrutiny soon over their expenditures on DEI, as well as critical race theory, under a new memo from the DeSantis administration, which directs Florida state colleges and universities to disclose staff, programs, and campus activities dedicated to promoting DEI and progressive race ideology.

"Governor DeSantis has prioritized a cost-effective higher education system that delivers high quality service to Floridians to best prepare them for employment," the memo reads. "State law requires dutiful attention to curriculum content at our higher education systems."

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DeSantis Shakes Up Leadership of Woke Florida College, Appoints Conservative Majority

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