New College to bring in Scott Atlas as commencement speaker
Scott Atlas. Image via AP.

The former coronavirus adviser to Donald Trump supported Ron DeSantis' reopening of Florida during the pandemic.

A medical advisor who supported Gov. Ron DeSantis’ anti-lockdown policies during the pandemic will speak at New College’s commencement ceremony.

Dr. Scott Atlas will address graduates on May 19 at the Sarasota campus, at the Bayfront historic Ringling mansion.

“Dr. Atlas’ perspective and resume are impressive; he is a champion and fighter for free speech and a renowned national leader,” said Richard Corcoran, Interim President of New College. “We are happy to welcome him here at New College, where we place a high value on personal freedom and individual autonomy, as Dr. Atlas does.”

The move will likely turn some heads, and the selection leans into the message the one-time haven for liberal students could be taking a hard-right turn.

Atlas was appointed in 2020 as special coronavirus adviser to President Donald Trump but quickly resigned amid friction with other public health leaders within the administration, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx. Atlas promoted the concept of “herd immunity,” having a wide span of the population develop natural immunity to COVID-19, well before a vaccine was available.

DeSantis issued a lockdown order in Florida in 2020, but started reopening ahead of many other large states. While DeSantis never publicly said his administration was pursuing herd immunity, he publicly assembled medical experts supporting that approach.

That included a number of appearances with DeSantis alongside Atlas, and had him appear on panels including one de-platformed by YouTube for medical misinformation.

Notably, Corcoran served at that time as DeSantis’ Education Commissioner and oversaw the reopening of Florida’s schools in 2020. He praised Atlas in announcing him as a speaker.

“Dr. Atlas is a noted commencement speaker and comes at such a pivotal time for New College,” Corcoran said.

“But that is not only what led me to asking him to speak to our graduates. Dr. Atlas is a first-generation college student in his family, he knows the value of hard work and what a path to higher education can lead to in one’s future. He has spoken about being bold and rising up over challenges, even amongst criticism. That spoke to me as we seek to stand up for the future of New College, our students and faculty — and now our graduates. I am proud and honored that he has accepted our invitation to speak.”

Corcoran was hired to lead the college after DeSantis appointed a slate of conservative trustees at the school, who promptly fired former New College President Patricia Okker. Corcoran came on at a much higher salary. A former House Speaker, he also lobbied lawmakers in the Legislature this year and secured a near-record level of funding for the small liberal arts university.

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].


  • Ocean Joe

    May 9, 2023 at 5:52 pm

    He’s a radiologist. The local high school usually gets a bigger fish than that. But since they’re trying to rub New College’s last set of graduates in it, Atlas will do.

  • Don’t Look Up

    May 9, 2023 at 6:25 pm

    During his commencement address graduates should stand with their backs to the podium.

    • Blurst Class Mind

      May 9, 2023 at 9:57 pm

      That sounds unreasonably reserved for Novos. I expect a singalong at a minimum.

    • Liberal Lunatic

      May 10, 2023 at 7:23 am

      I’m betting most of these graduates have never heard of Dr Atlas. They might comply with your request though as it will probably come through their Tik Tok, Instagram, Fakebook, etc. That’s what liberal, unable to think for themselves zombies do.

      • iak

        May 10, 2023 at 11:02 am

        Your comment explains your problem. Youre a dumper who doesn’t believe in science. Drink that bleach! So ignorant .

  • May June

    May 9, 2023 at 6:50 pm

    There go Mr. Corcoran and company showing those New College wokesters who is the boss.
    What a joy it will be to see the graduates give Dr. Atlas a true New College welcome.
    The thing is, it could have been even more delightful–think Ginni Thomas, Hillsdale’s Larry Arnn or a Hungarian think tank luminary sharing their pithy insights and pearls of wisdom.
    Perhaps next year. Who knows? One can dream. Tucker, are you available?

  • Jay Smif

    May 9, 2023 at 9:11 pm

    Quack “maga doctor” ranting at the remnants of a “maga” indoctrination center. What an absolute disgrace. DeSantis and klan are a disgrace.

  • May June

    May 9, 2023 at 9:41 pm

    Dr Scott Atlas? Pourquoi est-ce que je pense à Monsieur Homais et Flaubert?
    CLT folks, a literary question for y’all.

  • Michael K

    May 9, 2023 at 10:00 pm

    What on earth is wrong with these people? Run New College into the ground so the prime real estate can be sold to a wealthy DeSantis real estate developer? It’s not even a joke – it’s malpractice.

  • Senorita Margarita

    May 10, 2023 at 6:02 am

    Very good.

  • Liberal Lunatic

    May 10, 2023 at 7:27 am

    Now if you liberal wackos want a “fake scientist” then bring on Rebekah Jones. Read her history. She is a nutty as they come but the liberal media loved her because of her hate for Ron DeSantis. Where is she now? Just like Micheal Avenatti. You dummies always take the bait. By the way Rebekah’s teenage son has made some threats against his school. You see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  • Jeanne Locke

    May 10, 2023 at 7:55 am

    Scott Atlas, the guy responsible for promoting policies that led to excess deaths among Floridians. He should be allowed to slink back under a rock. We had a lot of people suffer brain damage and lose their livelihoods because there were no treatments back when he influenced Republicans to open the state prematurely. Patients had serious COVID infections because they were unvaccinated instead of minor infections.

  • puke on Atlas

    May 10, 2023 at 8:35 am

    Damn, as a New College alum, I would rather have Mickey Mouse or Goofy than this lying quack. I’m going with the theory that this is all a DeScamtis plot to shutter the school and sell the bayfront adjacent to the airport to some greedy developer friends of der furor. FYYCSMF!

  • Cassandra Potter

    May 10, 2023 at 8:54 am

    Either Interim President Corcoran just takes orders from above, or he has very little interest in this graduation ceremony being meaningful and inspirational for the graduating class.
    Hasn’t Mr. Corcoran considered that bringing in one of the most controversial figures associated with the COVID pandemic might be a less than celebratory move? We are all just coming out of this scourge.
    There could be graduates, family members and people in the audience who suffered a lot in this pandemic and maybe even lost a member of their family or a close friend. Why should they have to be reminded of Covid in a ceremony that is supposed to celebrate a very happy and proud rite of passage?

  • Julie G Delegal

    May 10, 2023 at 9:33 am

    I’m seeing media accounts use the term “herd immunity” to refer to unvaccinated herd immunity only. Herd immunity can also be reached by vaccination, which is why vaccine programs are so important. They don’t work unless most of the populace gets them, i.e., until we reach (vaccinated) herd immunity. Please use the modifier “vaccinated” or “unvaccinated” in conjunction with “herd immunity.” There’s already so much misinformation out there, clarity on this point is important.

  • MH/Duval

    May 10, 2023 at 1:08 pm

    Old-school New College kids would give Atlas the silent treatment — standing silently, displaying their disapprobation with signage.

  • Cassandra Potter

    May 10, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    May the 2023 graduates follow this old-school way of showing their disapproval of Dr. Atlas’s ideas and role in the COVID crisis.
    We all know there is a powerful statement in expressing your opinions in a civil way. And, as a bonus, this would really, really disappoint the politically driven individuals who relish seeing students suffer and get riled up.
    Many of us are confident that the New College students can take this graduation to educate a couple of the tactless, spite-driven and intolerant trustees. Miracles do happen!

  • Donna Crane

    May 13, 2023 at 1:32 am

    Too bad for Atlas.. Looks like New College Grads are having their own Commencement before gov.DeSatan’s planned indoctrination. You can support their student planned commencement through their GoFundMe page. They’ve even got a big name speaker for their commencement, not a quack doctor. You can support them through their GoFundMe for New College, FL page.

Comments are closed.


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