Fired New College VP blasts hostile atmosphere, attack on higher ed under Richard Corcoran

New College
The school fires Ryan Terry a day before trustees are expected to hire Corcoran as president on a permanent basis.

New College of Florida fired Ryan Terry, the university’s vice president of communications and marketing. The move came a day before New College trustees are expected to hire interim President Richard Corcoran on a permanent basis.

Terry only joined the university’s administration in July. But during a few months on the job, Terry said the worst criticisms about a hostile takeover at the school were confirmed. His termination took place days after a meeting with Corcoran that left him concerned the college president courts fights with the media and eschews efforts to restore a sense of community.

“When I was talking about unity on campus and saying we need to repair relationships in the organization with positive stories shared from campus, I was told, ‘I don’t care about unity on campus,’” Terry said.

New College officials confirmed Terry’s exit and stressed the university official held his position for a limited amount of time.

“Ryan Terry is no longer employed at New College,” a statement from the college reads. “While we cannot comment on personnel matters, I can assure you that Ryan was an at-will employee, serving under the administration’s supervision, as stated in NCF Regulation 3-4011. An employee who did not work out during the first 60 days in their new role is not uncommon. New College continues to make rapid progress toward restoring its stature among America’s best liberal arts institutions.”

The personnel move takes place after months of scrutiny about a remaking of the college, ever since Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed several new trustees who promptly fired the prior university president. The board quickly named Corcoran as interim president, and will take up a permanent contract at a trustee meeting on Tuesday.

At the university, officials within administration suggested tension with Terry about the role of a communications leader. The changes at New College have attracted national attention as DeSantis runs for President. Meanwhile, a third of professors at the school have left, as have many students. This left the public liberal arts college in need of someone handling attention from national news outlets from the New York Times to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Terry said he saw first-hand at New College a sense of tension on campus and a growing hostility within the broader community. But by his account, he tried to focus on moving past that. He led a hurricane preparation guide on campus, and pushed for events he believed would generate positive press, from pumpkin-carving contests to creating a mural on a modular unit to replace student-created murals being painted over in a campus beautification.

“These would create organic community stories and positive press,” Terry said.

But he was called into Corcoran’s office last week, where he said the President has a different communications strategy in mind.

“He said ‘I need a comms,’ and that I didn’t need to be concerned about school morale,” Terry said. “He told me he didn’t hire me for cute marketing campaigns, and it was not my job to develop ideas. He said ‘I hired you to go toe-to-toe with the media like DeSantis does’ and that ‘Chris Rufo shouldn’t be doing your job.’”

Rufo, one of DeSantis’ appointments to the board of trustees, has become one of the nation’s top critics of liberals in higher education. He has touted on a national stage moves like abolishing gender studies. “They wanted politics and now they are getting politics,” Rufo told Fox News in an August prime time segment.

Terry said the wanted to make communications decisions that “don’t eliminate and piss off people.”

“That’s what I set out to do,” Terry said. “It wasn’t welcomed.”

He also questions outreach decisions. For example, while New College is designated as the state honors college by statute, Terry said the plan for student recruitment in the next year will include trying to attract “weird home-schoolers and private Christian school kids.”

“A lot of this isn’t out there yet but they are developing promotional material for that purpose,” Terry said.

While Terry has some personal stake in the decision, he even questions the administration’s decision to fire him a day before the trustee vote on Corcoran’s future. Adding to the slight, terry said he was fired while he was on vacation. He received a call by phone Monday from Chief Human Resources Officer Erika Worthy, Vice President of Legal Affairs David Brickhouse and General Counsel Bill Galvano.

Terry said his own politics lean center-right. He most recently served as the public information officer in the Florida Department of Health’s Hillsborough County office during DeSantis’ tenure as Governor. He also has taught part-time the last eight years at the University of Tampa.

Of course, going public with criticisms of an employee brings immediate professional risk, especially for a communications professional. But he said he can’t stay quiet about what appears to be happening at New College.

“I shouldn’t have to live in a world where I am afraid to spotlight what is truly an attack on academic freedom and higher education,” he said.

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].


12 comments

  • Shameful

    October 2, 2023 at 7:17 pm

    Another example of how DeathSantis and the deplorables are indoctrinating and imbedding hatred in the educational system in Florida. Floriduh is on the rapid decline. Good for this man for speaking the truth

    • My Take

      October 3, 2023 at 2:45 am

      Crassly purging even the center-RIGHT.

  • Michael K

    October 2, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Disgusting. Florida education is winning the race to the bottom – a nationwide joke. This is how fascism begins.

  • Earl Pitts "Be More Earl-like In All You Do" American

    October 2, 2023 at 7:56 pm

    Y’all Dook 4 Brains forgot who’s in charge.
    Let me, Earl Pitts American, spell it out for ya:
    R-O-N D-E-S-A-N-T-I-S
    Got it?????
    EPA

    • WhatNow

      October 2, 2023 at 8:14 pm

      – Not for long, Mr. Arm Pit of America.

    • Jay Smif

      October 2, 2023 at 11:37 pm

      We’re gonna nuke the state from orbit in order to preserve the union, crazy old man, and we’ll do it in the late afternoon when you’re halfway through your daily plastic bottle of rotgut gin; you won’t feel a thing.

      DeSantis and his pathetic fascist klansmen are worthless, grooming indoctrination cowgirls, and the state is the laughingstock of the nation.

  • SteveHC

    October 2, 2023 at 8:28 pm

    I suspect that given New College’s very small size, DeSantis and his henchmen figure that nobody will really care as the whole kit and caboodle goes down the tubes. I guess time will tell…

  • My Take

    October 3, 2023 at 2:33 am

    A rightwing madrassa and pĺace to give college degrees to the shabbily educated homeschooled and churchschooled.

  • Rick Whitaker

    October 3, 2023 at 7:16 am

    public schools are best when left alone to do their job. but when they don’t bring in profit, maga don’t like that. florida is the laughing stock of the national education system. dump trump worship. nothing will turn around until then.

  • Earl Pitts "America's Premier Political Scientist" American

    October 3, 2023 at 9:21 am

    Good mornting America,
    Let the above comments serve as a perfect “Politicsl Labatory” lesson on politics today in The USA.
    Carefully read each comment and file them in your brain, (or on a piece of paper for some of our more dim-whitted readership) in order from abslout best decending in order to the remainder of posts
    *Here’s what you will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt.*
    1.) Earl Pitts American’s indisputable wisdom ranks as the bestest, most logical, most truthfull comment out of all the others. Furthermore (for those with the mental acumine to understand and retain facts) [Ocean Joe and maybe 2 or 3 additional posters] all agree that Earl’s wise, well written, and common sense truth post shares of superior knowledge clearly rank high in the annuals of written perfection of educational masterpieces in the history of mankind.

    *Now we move on to carefully rank all the other posters (those who are not Earl Pitts American)*

    2.) They all $uck.

    This deep dive into political truthfull wisdom and undisputable political truth was brought to America by me, Earl Pitts American.
    EPA

  • wake up yall

    October 3, 2023 at 12:26 pm

    In my opinion, State officials simply want to kill New College so that they can sell off the valuable real estate to a developer friend or donor. Running off the intelligence embodied in faculty and students is part of the plan, no doubt. Bring in a bunch of jocks and dummies and then the college rating will tank, and also piss away money on that effort and you know that they will shutter the college and sell out!

Comments are closed.


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