Conservative think tank leader named to New College trustee board
Ryan Anderson. Image via YouTube, Young American's Foundation.

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Ryan Anderson wrote a book criticizing the transgender movement that Amazon dropped in 2021.

The appointment of a number of conservative activists to New College of Florida’s board of trustees created a national uproar. Now Florida’s Board of Governors has added another name to the list sure to add to the controversy.

The Board of Governors named Ryan Anderson, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank in Washington, as one of its picks for New College trustees.

The selection came during a two-day meeting of the Board of Governors in Miami. At the same meeting, the Board of Governors named Ricardo Cardenas, president and chief operating officer for Darden Restaurants, as a University of Central Florida trustee.

The body also reappointed Roger Tovar, Jim Henderson and Oscar Horton as trustees, respectively, to Florida International University, Florida State University and the University of South Florida.

But Anderson is the headline grabber thanks to his history in conservative advocacy and a reputation in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ picks for the New College board.

Anderson has publicly praised DeSantis for a controversial decision to reject an AP African American Studies course. His own published works include co-writing the anti-marriage-equality book, “What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.” That was published in 2012 before the Supreme Court enshrined same-sex marriage as the law across the land, and conservative Justice Samuel Alito cited it in his dissent on the opinion.

More recently, his 2018 book, “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment,” generated controversy when Amazon removed it from its inventory in 2021. That prompted U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to lead a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos demanding answers as to why the tome was pulled and accusing the company of “unabashedly” using its large share of the bookseller market to censor Anderson for “violating woke groupthink.”

Anderson’s appointment incidentally came the same day two of DeSantis’ most controversial picks for New College held a town hall with students at the Sarasota school. At the event, new trustee Chris Rufo said administrators nearly canceled it after Eddie Speir, the other trustee at the event, received a death threat, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

Rufo at the meeting also said he was given a directive by DeSantis to reform New College.

“He gave us a pep talk recently. He said, ‘Look, I have an overwhelming mandate from the people of Florida. You are constitutional officers appointed by the Governor. You have a political, a moral and a governing mandate to reform this institution,'” he said.

With the addition of Anderson to the board, seven of 13 trustees at the small liberal arts college are new members appointed either by the Governor or by the university system’s board.

U.S. News and World Reports in its annual ranking of the nation’s best colleges and universities listed New College as No. 5 on its “Top Public Schools” list, behind only the nation’s military academies and the Virginia Military Institute.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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