DeSantis shakes up leadership at Woke Florida College

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) giving a speech after taking the oath of office at his second term inauguration in Tallahassee, Fla., January 3, 2023.(Octavio Jones/Reuters)

Governor Ron DeSantis appointed six new conservatie members to the “Woke” New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees on Friday.

Since 2001, when  the New College of Florida (NCF) was designated the state’s honors college by the Florida legislature, the school has become increasingly progressive.

The public liberal arts New College is governed by a 13 member board, six of which are chosen by the governor pending approval by the state senate.

DeSantis’s six appointees are Christopher Rufo, Mark Bauerlein, Matthew Spalding, Charles Kesler, Debra Jenks, and Jason “Eddie” Speir.

“All of these appointees have a firsthand understanding of the Florida education system as a product of their work with us and the Florida Department of Education on other important initiatives. We are grateful to them for lending their time and expertise to the benefit of Florida’s students,” DeSantis’ office told Fox News Digital.

“The New College of Florida is a public institution with a statutorily stated mission of ‘provid[ing] a quality education.’ Unfortunately, like so many colleges and universities in America, this institution has been completely captured by a political ideology that puts trendy, truth-relative concepts above learning.” 

The most well known name on the new board is Christopher Rufo, who has really taken the lead over the last few years in exposing Critical Race Theory. 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. 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.

“Governor DeSantis is leading the nation in educational reform and post-secondary responsibility,” Spalding said in a statement to National Review. “I am honored by the appointment and look forward to advancing educational excellence and focusing New College on its distinctive mission as the liberal arts honors college of the State of Florida. A good liberal arts education is truly liberating and opens the minds and forms the character of good students and good citizens.”

DeSantis has made it clear that he also wants to “abolish ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ and replace it with ‘equality, merit, and colorblindness,’ restructure the academic departments to reflect the new pedagogical approach, hire new faculty with expertise in constitutionalism, free enterprise, civic virtue, family life, religious freedom, and American principles Establish a graduate school for training teachers in classical education.”

DeSantis’ chief of staff, James Uthmeier, told the Daily Caller that the revamped board could make the school “along the lines of a Hillsdale of the South,” — alluding to the Conservative Christian college.

New College of Florida could also face scruity soon over their expenditures on DEI, as well as Critical Race Theory. Under a new memo from the DeSantis administration, state colleges and universities must diclose staff, programs and campus activities dedicated to promoting DEI and Critical Race Theory.

“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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