New College pitches marine mammal grad program to BOG
New College gets more money in this budget, but not a blank check.

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If approved, the pieces are in place for a Fall 2024 launch.

Come fall semester, New College of Florida could be launching a master’s program in marine mammal science.

New College has drafted a proposal for the program, known as MIMMS, which will be reviewed and voted on by the State University System Board of Governors on Wednesday.

According to the document, the university already has the pieces in place to offer the new program. In addition to qualified faculty and interested students, its Sarasota-based campus and facilities afford it proximal relevance to marine mammal scholars.

Sarasota Bay is home to the longest-studied population of wild dolphins in the world and Florida is home to more manatees than anywhere else. In addition to wild fauna, the Sunshine State is also rife with zoos and aquariums, many of them housing marine mammals.

New College has expressed interest in launching a MIMMS program for more than a decade, but Richard Corcoran has been working to fast-track the launch since taking over as President in late 2023.

Thus far, the former House Speaker and Education Commissioner has been able to secure state money to grow the school and funding for a MIMMS program is likely attainable.

New College asserts their program, if approved, will feature a unique blend of lab and field studies while building partnerships with world-class universities and experts, such as SDRP — the group that has been conducting the long-running Sarasota Bay dolphins study —as well as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Scotland’s St. Andrews University, among others.

Currently, the MIMMS program at St. Andrews is the most comparable to the one being pitched by New College. However, St. Andrews’ program is out of reach for most Florida students given its a 32% acceptance rate and cost of $34,000 per year.

A state investment could also produce dividends for the school by way of grant funding and for the state by way of workforce development for future conservation management professionals, lab and field scientists, technicians, and qualified employees for zoos, aquaria and nonprofit organizations.

On grant funding, New College has already proven successful. The current program manager, Dr. Heidi Harley, who has taught at New College for three decades, recently secured funding from the Department of Defense that supports research conducted alongside undergraduates. A master’s program would attract additional grant funds and create additional opportunities for undergrads to study alongside graduate level students.

According to workforce data, jobs in fields related to marine mammal science are projected to increase over the coming decade. Natural sciences manager positions are expected to rise by about 5% by 2032. Likewise, zoologist and wildlife biologist positions are in line for a 3% increase while the need for conservation scientists will jump by 4%.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


  • Rick Whitaker

    March 26, 2024 at 4:34 pm

    if you were hiring someone, would you pick the new college candidate over a similar candidate from just about any other school? de santis created the frankenstein monster of a school known as new college. you can’t get that stain off you.

  • Nicole Vanderberg

    March 27, 2024 at 4:05 pm

    This will be a prestigious, world class program of study for students, and shine a spotlight on the FL BOG & SUS for supporting this collaborative endeavour….as the saying goes:
    If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
    This program is a brilliant example of this proverb, forging collaboration among the FL SUS (NCF, UF), esteemed regional organizations (Mote, SDRP), national institutions (Woods Hole) and international academies of higher education (St. Andrews University, Scotland). I’m thrilled to see this program come to fruition (as all Floridians should be), which will produce educated professionals to perpetuate the study, research and conservation of marine mammals, an unquantifiable asset to Florida and the world.

    • Rick Whitaker

      April 4, 2024 at 1:39 pm

      NICOLE,i repeat, if you were hiring someone, would you pick the new college candidate over a similar candidate from just about any other school? de santis created the frankenstein monster of a school known as new college. you can’t get that stain off you.

  • TruBlue Florida

    March 29, 2024 at 3:57 pm

    Yes, but at what cost? How many faculty and how many students and staff had be chased off, removed, displaced and just treated terribly with this “hostile” take over of New College. When you look at the big picture and place the focus on the lives destroyed by this “Great Book” quest of white supremacy or this “Anti-woke” agenda B.S. driven by the gravy train of $$ from DeSantis ( hiring of staff – no higher Ed experience necessary) – it’s like rewarding the abuser, the aggressor. It’s enough already… Let New College return to USF already as an Honors College….

Comments are closed.


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