Senate budgets $15M for ‘mediocre’ New College amid campus reset

New College
Keith Perry said the school needs to improve its national standing.

New College seems assured to receive $15 million in additional funding this year.

The Senate included the funding in its early budget proposal, and the House has included the funding as well. It’s money Gov. Ron DeSantis requested after he installed a half dozen new trustees at the Sarasota university.

But what’s the money for?

Sen. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican chairing the Senate Education Appropriations Committee, said the money would “support New College of Florida’s transition to a world-class liberal arts college.” The funding was a point of discussion at a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting.

That’s terminology sure to rankle longtime supporters of the school, which was ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the No. 5 public college in America, behind only the military academies. But Perry said it’s “naïve” to accept that at face value. That’s a ranking within a small subset of schools. The school is ranked No. 76 among all liberal arts colleges nationally.

“We cannot have a mediocre university in our system,” Perry said.

Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat, asked if the money was necessary to pay recently hired Interim President Richard Corcoran’s salary, an 18-month contract with a $799,000 base annual salary with an $84,000 housing allowance and a $12,000 auto allowance.

Perry said there isn’t a line item to support paying the administrator. But some money can go toward that end.

“The money’s not directly for the salary of any one person,” he said. “It’s just a general amount of money that they can spend on that, with $5 million that they can spend to attract new faculty.”

Corcoran, a former House Speaker, was hired after newly appointed trustees fired former New College President Patricia Okker without cause at their first meeting.

Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, represents the area housing the college in the Legislature. Notably, Sydney Gruters, the Senator’s wife, was recently hired as executive director of the New College Foundation, which also may raise money that could offset the salary.

Florida Politics asked Sen. Gruters if he considered New College a world-class institution today.

“It is on its way to glory!” he replied.

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].


  • Dick Schmekel

    March 29, 2023 at 12:53 pm

    “It is on its way to glory!” he replied.” Yes, indeed it is, if by ‘glory’ you mean dead.

  • Rob Desantos

    March 30, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    USF, UCF, FIU, FAU, UNF are all lower rated Florida universities.

    But yeah, keep owning the libs, Sen. Perry who literally never took a college course. This is a HS-graduate roofer chairing the Senate *Education* Committee, way to go Florida voters.

Comments are closed.


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