David Rancourt joins New College as Dean of Students

rancourt, david
The former mega-lobbyist once served as Jeb Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff.

One of Florida’s most prominent lobbyists has joined the faculty at New College of Florida.

David Rancourt started this month as Dean of Student Affairs at the Sarasota campus, New College interim President Richard Corcoran confirmed to Florida Politics.

Rancourt is a founding partner for Southern Strategy Group, which in 2019 changed its name to The Southern Group.

An alumnus of the University of Florida’s Political Campaigning program, a biography on that university’s website notes Rancourt’s long history in Florida politics. He served as political director for former U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis, a Pinellas Republican, and ran a re-election campaign for the Congressman. He also managed a gubernatorial campaign for former Florida Attorney General Jim Smith.

On the government side, Rancourt served as Deputy Chief of Staff to former Gov. Jeb Bush, and he remained a trusted advisor to the national figure for years, including as Bush prepared a 2016 run for President.

Rancourt also spent time as the state’s Director of Elections and as Deputy Secretary of State.

He helped found Southern Strategy Group in 2000 with Paul Bradshaw, and helped it grow into one of the state’s preeminent firms and, at one point, the nation’s largest state-based lobbying firm. For years, Rancourt has done private political consulting and has also taught political courses, including at Florida State University. He also served as chair for the Seminole Boosters club

He has worked through the years with prominent figures, including former state Sen. Jack Latvala, running the Pinellas leader’s Florida Leadership Committee PAC.

His continued work in Florida’s political and government worlds made him a regular presence in Tallahassee, including during Corcoran’s tenure as House Speaker and Education Commissioner.

The move to New College comes during a major transition period for the school, following Gov. Ron DeSantis appointing a number of new trustees and bringing on Corcoran as interim President. Corcoran is a finalist for the permanent post.

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].


  • Mike

    August 15, 2023 at 9:59 pm

    This man has ZERO experience, qualifications, skills, knowledge, or anything at all related to working in higher education – and more specifically, in Student Affairs. This is a professional field with experts, history, and standards regarding service, support, and resources students need to succeed in college. This is beyond offensive.

  • Clif Curry

    August 16, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    Awesome appointment. Rancourt is one if the sharpest minds in our state. It’s a tribute to Governor Desantis and College President Richard Corcoran that they were able to recruit such a talented individual for the job during this incredibly important transition error for New College.

    • Sherman Dorn

      August 17, 2023 at 9:58 am

      Hilarious joke. What’s his starting salary? (Hint: his predecessor’s salary was $121, so my guess is that he’ll be at least $250K because he’s a well-connected lobbyist.)

    • Gilliam

      August 22, 2023 at 1:32 pm

      “important transition error for New College.” Completely agree.

  • My Take

    August 16, 2023 at 3:53 pm

    Converting a liberal arts university into a fascist madrassa is no small job.

  • Michael K

    August 16, 2023 at 4:00 pm

    The purpose is to destroy the college. And pay Republican white men big bucks for their lack of qualifications or interest.

  • Sharon Marie Chester

    August 16, 2023 at 6:04 pm

    PLEASE remove the name New College from my beloved now-irreparably dismembered alma mater. This is despicable.

    • My Taket

      August 21, 2023 at 10:32 pm

      I hope not.
      How, I wonder, did German universities and colleges recover from being Nazi?

Comments are closed.


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