New College board scraps 5 professors’ tenure
Protests at New College trustee meeting. Image via AP.

New College protests
Matthew Lepinski, a professor, quit the Board of Trustees in protest.

The New College of Florida trustees now dominated by conservatives appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis voted to deny tenure to five professors, overriding concerns by faculty and students that the decision poses a threat to academic freedom.

The traditionally progressive public college in Sarasota currently has only 659 students enrolled this year but has become the focal point of a campaign by DeSantis to rid higher education in the state of what the Republican governor calls left-leaning “woke” indoctrination on campuses.

The school’s interim president, DeSantis ally and former state House Speaker Richard Corcoran, said in a memo to the trustees that he wanted the professors’ tenure denied or delayed in part because of the administrative changes and because of “a renewed focus on ensuring the college is moving towards a more traditional liberal arts institution.”

“You’ve got a brand new president, a brand new provost. You have literally a change in direction,” Corcoran said, noting the professors were applying for tenure a year early and could return again next year. “Let’s just defer it one year.”

The trustees denied tenure for all five professors on identical 6-4 votes, with the new conservative board members in the majority. Shouts of “shame on you!” came from the audience afterward. One trustee holdover, New College professor Matthew Lepinski, quit the board after the vote and walked out of the room.

“I’ve very concerned about the direction this board is going. This is my last board meeting. I’m leaving the college,” Lepinski said without further explanation.

Tenured professors can typically be fired only under extreme circumstances, such as professional misconduct or a financial emergency. Advocates for tenure say it is a crucial component of academic freedom but conservatives have begun targeting tenure around the country, often taking aim at professors with supposedly liberal views.

The five professors denied tenure are Rebecca Black and Lin Jiang, who both teach organic chemistry; Nassima Neggaz, history and religion with a focus on Islam; coastal and marine science professor Gerardo Toro-Farmer; and Hugo Viera-Vargas, whose specialty is Caribbean/Latin American studies and music.

All five began their applications for tenure in May 2022 and won approval of both New College faculty and the school’s previous administration, which includes its current provost. Students, faculty and parents spoke at the trustees meeting in favor of granting tenure to the five professors, at one point breaking into a loud chant of “give them tenure.”

“Your disruptive agenda is clearly not in the best interests of the students,” said Joyce White, whose daughter attends New College. “Tenure and academic freedom go hand in hand.”

Several dozen protesters outside the meeting gave speeches and carried signs with slogans such as “Hands Off NCF” and “Defy. The Political Pawns Strike Back.” Banners were also unfurled from a nearby highway overpass that read ”Protect Professors” and “Resist Fascism.”

The new trustees previously terminated the school’s president in favor of Corcoran and scrapped the college’s small office of diversity, equity and inclusion. The administration is also starting sports programs, including baseball.

The conservative takeover has gained national attention, prompting a visit in April by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California in which he sharply criticized DeSantis and the changes under way at New College.

“I can’t believe what you’re dealing with. It’s just an unbelievable assault,” Newsom said during a meeting with students and faculty.


Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Billy the Bamboozler

    April 27, 2023 at 8:01 am

    Instead of the GOP understanding that it is too far to the right politically and adjusting their position, they double down with religious wars and fascism. This will continue to cost them in national elections. Shameful meltdown of a once great political party at the hands of confused people with bad strategy.

    • Matthew Lusk

      April 27, 2023 at 4:00 pm

      Fascism is big government. It’s on the left , moron. Marxists and Fascists are brother and sister. Fascists use corporations to enslave and feed on the populace (IQ 90), Marxists just feed on the dead and dying carcass (IQ80).

  • Ang

    April 27, 2023 at 2:13 pm

    Why isn’t this the top story on Florida Politics? This is how it starts, be alert and pay attention Floridians and Americans… When the governor of FL makes the very loud proclamation – Florida is where woke goes to die — then in the same breath, the governor needs to be honest and proclaim, Florida is where fascism rises again…. If it’s true (campaign commercial) ‘God Made’ Ron DeSantis on the 8th day,” then it seems God intends to destroy Democracy and Educational Freedom in Florida and y’all should be paying attention.

    • Matthew Lusk

      April 27, 2023 at 3:55 pm

      Sodomy is not an education, it’s a perversion. An abomination of desolation. You are sick.

  • Matthew Lusk

    April 27, 2023 at 3:51 pm

    Tenure is something lazy arrogant professors hide behind for job security and sex pervert back scratching. It has literally ruined a hundred gross of schools across the United States. Stop tax payer funded tenure.

  • Tara

    April 27, 2023 at 5:13 pm

    Ang said it all.
    This is a systematic picking away at freedoms. People who lived thru the Holocaust emphasize how they lost their freedoms, livelihoods, and some, their lives in small increments…almost unnoticed individually.
    Fascism is a stealthy process. It’s not something that can happen overnight with the stroke of a pen.
    Wake up America!!! Wake the EFF up!

  • May June

    May 1, 2023 at 10:07 am

    “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy–they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704