The New College of Florida Board of Trustees approved a contract for interim president Richard Corcoran with a base salary of $699,000, which is $400,000 more than his predecessor made.
In addition, Corcoran will receive an $84,000 annual housing stipend, a $12,000 automobile allowance and the potential to earn a 15 percent goal-based salary bonus. His pension will add another $104,850 in annual contract costs. The contract runs through September 2024, meaning Corcoran could potentially make over $1 million as NCF president.
The NCF board formally hired Corcoran, a former Republican Speaker of the House in Florida’s Legislature who also served as the state’s education commissioner and as a member of the Florida Board of Governors, at an online meeting Monday. The move comes after the college pushed out the prior president, Patricia Okker, at the behest of a swath of new conservative trustees appointed by Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, who argued that liberal politics had corrupted NCF’s culture.
The vote passed 12 to 1 with only student trustee Grace Keenan voting against Corcoran’s hire. Keenan also raised questions about the legality of the hiring process, noting that news that the board would hire Corcoran broke before Okker was terminated last month. Keenan also questioned the decision to pay him $400,000 more per year.
Other trustees defended the move, despite allegations of financial irresponsibility raised in public comments, arguing that Corcoran has significant work to do in shifting the culture of NCF. Matthew Spalding, a new trustee and dean at Hillsdale College in Michigan who initially approached Corcoran about the job, touted Corcoran’s lengthy résumé and argued that his friendship with the interim president is not unethical.
The decision to hire Corcoran took place before public comments, which were moved to the end of the special meeting. Of more than a dozen speakers, none expressed support for hiring Corcoran. Multiple speakers questioned the move, raising legal, ethical and financial concerns.