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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

A sharp right turn for Florida's New College: 'We are recapturing higher ed'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to turn the very progressive New College of Florida, the state's liberal arts honors college, into a classical liberal arts school that replaces "diversity, equity and inclusion" with "equality, merit, and colorblindness." He appointed six new conservative trustees, including the Manhattan Institute's Christopher Rufo and Hillsdale College's Larry Arnn.

New College is located in Sarasota, Florida

According to a press release, New College will "hire new faculty with expertise in constitutionalism, free enterprise, civic virtue, family life, religious freedom, and American principles" and "establish a graduate school for training teachers in classical education."

DeSantis has vowed to fight "philosophical lunacy" in public education, report Ana Ceballos and Jeffrey S. Solochek in the Tampa Bay Tribune.

“We are recapturing higher education,” said Rufo, who's campaigned against teaching "critical race theory and gender ideology" in public schools.

DeSantis wants to "reshape" higher education, he said in his inaugural speech. “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.”

New College enrolls less than 700 students: Two-thirds are female, and only 21 percent are Hispanic or black. It survived a move in 2020 to merge the college into the University of Florida.

It will be interesting to see if the new focus will attract more students or drive them away.

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