Could New College host Florida’s next conservative think tank? Richard Corcoran says why not?
Richard Corcoran at College Hall at New College of Florida. Photo by Jacob Ogles.

Richard Corcoran at NCF
The recently hired New College president said plenty of centers succeed at Florida schools already

A number of recently appointed trustees at New College of Florida previously worked at conservative think tanks. Could such an academic institute appear at the Sarasota university?

When asked about the possibility, interim President Richard Corcoran noted such operations have worked at other Florida institutions.

“Every university has some degree of that,” Corcoran told Florida Politics. “Why can’t New College?”

FP interviewed Corcoran to discuss the future of the school after a contentious trustee meeting, the first since his official hire for a headline-grabbing $699,000 base salary.

When Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed a half dozen new trustees for the small liberal arts college, the roster included conservative academics from the Manhattan Institute, Claremont-McKenna College, Emory University and Hillsdale College. The Board of Governors shortly afterward appointed the leader of the similar Ethics & Public Policy Center in Washington.

Corcoran noted many centers focused on public policy thrive at existing Florida public universities.

“The University of Florida has the Hamilton Center,” he said. “There’s the Institute of Politics at Florida State. There’s all kinds of centers. There’s the Adam Smith Center at FIU (Florida International University). All these centers exist. Why can’t New College also engage in that kind of diversity of thought?”

The prospect follows years of advocacy within the Florida Legislature to have greater diversity of political philosophies represented at college campuses. Florida recently launched an intellectual diversity survey for faculty, and while many instructors have feared that would be used to try and weed out liberal educators, backers long said data can instead show if Florida needs more permanent or guest instructors presenting conservative coursework.

Of note, the legislator who most prominently championed that survey for years in the House and Senate, Ray Rodrigues, now serves as Chancellor of the State University System.

Corcoran comes onto New College after years of Tallahassee figures expressing concern about low enrollment at the school.

“A private entity like a New College with 700 students or less over time doesn’t exist,” Corcoran said. “It doesn’t survive.”

Of course, New College also has struggled with bringing in fundraising. Much of the trustees meeting centered on the role of the college foundation moving forward.

Many of the centers Corcoran mentioned at other schools are tied to regular streams of money. The Council on Public University Reform, which also has ties to Hillsdale College, advocated for the Hamilton Center for Classic and Civics Education. The Adam Smith Center for Economic Freedom has been spotlighted in fundraising from large and small donors giving to FIU.

While Corcoran declines to answer questions of whether all existing faculty will remain part of New College going forward, he also doesn’t dismiss the idea a policy center could attract a wider range of faculty.

He does, however, take issue with characterizing that as a recruitment of conservative academics.

“It’s the wrong word,” he said. “We want to bring in excellence. Just continue to go out there and get excellent professors.”

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].


  • Mr. Haney

    March 1, 2023 at 7:19 am

    Why can’t these Republican grifters get real jobs?

    • Bubba

      March 1, 2023 at 8:36 am

      They don’t know how! They are fundamentally broken.

  • Pancho Villar

    March 1, 2023 at 9:49 am

    University president is a real job with an expansive degree of responsibilities. Universities can thrive or whither based on vision coming from the president.

    If you disagree with the partisan nature of Corcoran’s appointment, that’s one thing. However, don’t besmirch university administration as a profession, without knowing the wide array of responsibilities entailed.

  • Bill

    March 1, 2023 at 7:14 pm

    Why are New College folks denying they are building a conservative college? They must know that the public is not that dumb. They are using Koch money to build conservative institutions in order to remove impediments to Koch making as much money as is humanly possible in one lifetime.

Comments are closed.


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