The New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to eliminate its Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, striking a blow against diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at NCF.
Trustees, led by a swath of new conservative appointees installed by Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, and the Republican-led Florida Board of Governors, voted 10 to 3 to eliminate the office and authorize college leaders to make personnel changes, as needed. The office, according to a report delivered at the meeting, has four full-time employees.
The move comes despite student protests on campus and a fiery public comment portion of the meeting that questioned the actions of trustees on stifling DEI efforts. Commenters also criticized the hiring of Richard Corcoran, a former Florida politician with ties to board members, as interim president with a nearly $400,000 raise over his predecessor, who was pushed out amid reforms by the board. (Concerns have since emerged that the college's foundation does not have the funds to pay that salary; Florida law only allows state funds to cover $200,000 of a president’s salary.)
Chris Rufo, a new trustee and anti-DEI activist, who led the charge in taking down the Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, took a victory lap on Twitter after Tuesday’s meeting.
“BREAKING: New College of Florida has become the first university in the nation to abolish its DEI bureaucracy, ban coercive ‘diversity’ statements and programming, and prohibit identity-based preferences in hiring, admissions, and other procedures,” Rufo tweeted.
The move to eliminate the Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, which handles DEI efforts alongside multiple other initiatives, comes just ahead of Florida’s legislative session, in which lawmakers will look to defund state DEI initiatives and enact other reforms.