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The Administrative Overhaul of New College of Florida

The Administrative Overhaul of New College of Florida

Inside Higher Ed

Josh Moody
September 19, 2023
As the old adage goes, it’s not what you know but who you know that matters. And at New College of Florida, that cliché seems to be playing out in a number of recent hiring decisions.
An enrollment management director with no prior admissions experience. A dean of student affairs who has never worked in higher education. A general counsel imported from the State Senate. A head of donor relations who served as vice chair of the Republican Party of Sarasota. Those are just a few of the new hires made this year by the leaders of New College, which is in the midst of a dramatic makeover engineered by conservative trustees appointed in January.
Governor Ron DeSantis drove the selection of those new trustees, with four out of the six initial appointments coming from outside Florida. Their first order of business was to fire President Patrician Okker and install Richard Corcoran, a former GOP lawmaker and DeSantis ally, as interim president. Corcoran, who had never worked for a university before, was hired at the recommendation of new trustee Matthew Spalding.
Corcoran stepped in immediately, earning nearly double Okker’s salary even as an interim. At the time, Spalding referred to him as a close friend. Spalding now leads the presidential search committee tasked with hiring the next president, and Corcoran has been named as one of three finalists.
More new hires have followed, many of whom lack higher ed experience but have close ties to Corcoran or the Republican Party. That has raised alarms among longtime NCF supporters.

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