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New College of Florida names president after six-month search

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  • | 5:00 p.m. October 4, 2023
Richard Corcoran was named interim president of New College of Florida earlier this year.
Richard Corcoran was named interim president of New College of Florida earlier this year.
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The search for a permanent president at New College of Florida has concluded. 

Richard Corcoran, who has served as interim president since Jan. 31, was selected following a six-month search process. Contract negotiations will be looked over at the next board meeting later in October, according to a press release. 

“With the selection of President Corcoran, New College is poised to continue on its path of becoming the best liberal arts institution in the nation,” Board Chair Debra Jenks said. 

Corcoran, who was Florida Education Secretary under Gov. Ron DeSantis from 2018 to 2021, stepped into the interim role to replace Patricia Okker, who was fired after the governor launched a major transformation — some critics called it a hostile takeover — of New College.

Following DeSantis’ gubernatorial election victory, he tasked seven new board members in early January with reshaping New College, which was founded in Sarasota in 1960. 

“In Florida, we will build off of our higher education reforms by aligning core curriculum to the values of liberty and the Western tradition, eliminating politicized bureaucracies like DEI, increasing the amount of research dollars for programs that will feed key industries with talented Florida students and empowering presidents and boards of trustees to recruit and hire new faculty, including by dedicating record resources for faculty salaries,” DeSantis said in a statement. 

DeSantis backed his words with $15 million to “overhaul and restructure” New College, “including support for student’s scholarships and hiring faculty.” The Legislature approved the proposal in the most recent state budget. 

An employment contract for Corcoran will be negotiated before being reviewed and voted on by the board. 

Once that’s been approved, the contract will be seen by the State University System of Florida Board of Governors during the Nov. 9 meeting for final approval. Corcoran was one of three finalists considered for the role; the committee reviewed 63 applications. 

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