Senate committee OKs Ron DeSantis picks for Florida Poly board

Florida Poly
At least 2 of the appointees have publicly criticized diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

A Senate committee gave its approval for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ appointees to the Florida Polytechnic University Board of Trustees. DeSantis announced his appointments in October.

The appointees include University of Chicago Associate Professor Dorian Abbot, Manhattan Institute senior fellow Ilya Shapiro, former DeSantis staffer David Clark, retired logistics executive Clifford Otto and radar tech company owner Sidney Theis.

Their appointments received initial approval from the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, with Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky opposing Abbot and Shapiro due to their rejection of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs. DeSantis has railed against DEI in higher education.

Shapiro posted to X in October that the practice should be eradicated, according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal. And in early 2022 he was placed on administrative leave before he even began a job at Georgetown University Law School after he questioned a Joe Biden Supreme Court appointment, tweeting a suggestion that the President would appoint a “lesser black woman” to the bench, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Abbot got pushback from some faculty members and graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after the prestigious school invited Abbot, a scientist who studies climate change and distant solar systems, to give a public lecture. Abbot had previously spoken out against affirmative action and diversity programs, according to the New York Times.

Otto is a registered Republican who had already been serving as a Trustee.

Polsky, during debate on the Florida Poly appointments, expressed concern that Abbot and Shapiro’s addition to the Board would make the state’s youngest public university and only STEM-dedicated public college akin to New College of Florida, which DeSantis remade in his image by appointing a slate of conservative trustees early last year.

The appointments are still subject to full Senate confirmation, though with a conservative supermajority, Polsky’s concerns are unlikely to be heeded.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].

One comment

  • KathrynA

    February 13, 2024 at 10:01 am

    Oh good, another university under DeSantis thumb! I’m so glad I graduated long ago when thinking was allowed.

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