Richard Corcoran says New College business plan ‘wildly misrepresented’
Richard Corcoran praises DeSantis' continued support of New College.

Richard-Corcoran-New-College
A $400M capital outlay plan includes $173M in non-state funding, he stressed.

New College President Richard Corcoran said a long-term plan for desired capital improvements has been wildly misread.

He said a five-year business plan requested by the state has wrongly been viewed as a demand for massive additional funding from the state. At a Board of Governors meeting in November, Corcoran presented a formal business plan that included $400 million for initial capital outlay on campus, a number first reported on the Higher Ed Dive blog and repeated in media reports frequently.

But Corcoran said the university was asked for a list of capital needs, and that number has been misunderstood. In a two-page informational sheet released by New College, Corcoran stressed that the total is not additional funding he expects the Legislature to provide within five years and that much of the funding will likely come from sources other than the state’s Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds.

“First, the $400 million included non-PECO funds of $173 million, which would be received from other indirect revenue sources (non-state funding), and $227 million in total PECO funding requests (state funding),” he wrote.

“Typically, capital investments are analyzed on the useful life of a building, which is 50 years. If any other state universities were asked to complete a five-year business plan with all future requests realized within five years, their capital request would likely be in the billions.”

But he also pushed back on frequent calculations on the investment based on single-year enrollment. Physical improvements to the New College campus, as on any university, will be enjoyed over the lifespan of structures. Government typically calculates the lifespan of a new building at 50 years, he notes.

On math that puts investment in the school at $571,000 per student, he said that’s intellectually dishonest.

“This is just silly. That argues that all $400 million would benefit only the approximately 600 students on campus in Spring 2023,” he wrote.

“NCF’s five-year business plan outlines investments in the campus that would benefit a growing student population for decades to come. Put simply, this calculation is a bad faith interpretation of what NCF is requesting. For example, the 1,200 plus beds NCF would like to construct are for the long-term functionality of the campus and cannot be treated as an investment attached to one single year of enrollment.”

The university also intends to increase enrollment by at least 100 students each year over the next five years, which also would impact such a calculation.

In the short term, Corcoran said his ask from the state is a much less lofty figure.

“NCF is immediately focused on securing $25 million in additional recurring base funding and $10 million in PECO funds,” he said.

“This request is a long-term commitment which would not require NCF to keep coming back to the Legislature year after year for operational funding. This long-term commitment is vital so that the college can make its own commitments — to its faculty, its students, and the community. As an alternative NCF is requesting $30 million in nonrecurring funding and $10 million in PECO funds to address more immediate needs of the campus. This amount would need to be requested each year to fulfill the needs as outlined in the business plan.”

Scrutiny of the college has stepped up since Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed a number of new trustees who promised to remake the small honors university into a model for conservative higher education. The new board promptly fired a former President and hired Corcoran, DeSantis’ former Education Commissioner, as President.

Corcoran has defended the moves and categorized them as necessary for the college’s future, noting the Legislature as recently as 2020 considered folding the school into another major university.

“The business plan recognizes the reformation and invigoration required to uphold NCF’s historic liberal arts mission following decades of decline,” Corcoran wrote. “It outlines an aspirational path to revitalize NCF and establish it as a model of excellence for the nation.”

He also noted the school intends to keep up its end of any negotiation and grow the school substantially in size.

“NCF views this business plan as an opportunity to highlight our far-reaching ambitions over the next five years for what we know this college can become — a world-class classical liberal arts education institution — provided the resources and commitment to do so,” he wrote.

“The plan includes goals from increasing enrollment from an historical average of about 600 students to over 1,600 to improving the New College Foundation’s fundraising performance, as well as the inspired tactics to achieve these goals such as offering new degree programs to expanding athletics and improving student experience and infrastructure.”

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].


9 comments

  • Michael K

    December 28, 2023 at 5:55 pm

    He’s being paid $1.5 million to destroy a respected college – a sinecure position for a DeSantis crony. The college’s accreditation is at risk under his unqualified direction under Chris Rufo, who is really calling the shots.

    • Joe

      January 8, 2024 at 11:06 pm

      This country will be better off when the vampire Rufo is vanquished along with his zombie New College.

  • woke up

    December 29, 2023 at 9:20 am

    Desatan and Cockring have conspired to destroy the crown jewel of Florida’s higher education system. What a shame. My view is that they intend to eventually sell the valuable bayfront near the airport to their developer cronies. Admitting junior college transfers and jocks is not going to uphold the storied reputation of New College as an academic powerhouse.

  • Kenneth L Gallaher

    December 29, 2023 at 7:45 pm

    That college will soon be dead. No students, no profs.

  • Mimi Latane

    January 1, 2024 at 3:15 pm

    Too bad the state didn’t offer anything like even the revised down request here when the college was a hidden gem. It was made independent without the necessary funding even to run its own payroll by legislative fiat in 2001, and then starved of funds to update buildings including historic buildings for decades. Performance metrics skewed to benefit large institutions (FSU, UF)with professional programs were used to rationalize reducing basic funding some years ,and so energy was focused on performance metrics the college was set up to lose (with such small N, 5 students either way meant funding or cuts).

  • Dont Say FLA

    January 6, 2024 at 12:49 pm

    Rhonda is coming for New College President Richard Corcoran’s job. But two years from now, Rhonda will be lucky to be awarded so much as the job of Floribama Community College President.

  • Joe

    January 8, 2024 at 10:59 pm

    This joke of a shell of a former academic institution is NEVER earning that $173M in non-Desantis-decreed funding, no matter how many 4th-tier “athletes” they pack into their on-campus forms. But of course that failure is the whole point.

    • Joe

      January 8, 2024 at 11:00 pm

      *dorms

Comments are closed.


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