Breaking Campus News. Launching Media Careers.
New College enrolls more students, looks to cut gender studies

Changes to liberal arts college since January have generated ‘remarkable’ excitement, spokesperson said

A small public Florida college has rapidly transformed under Governor Ron DeSantis-appointed trustee board, as liberal faculty have resigned in large numbers, a gender studies major is slated for demolition and admissions numbers rise.

Conservative activist and journalist Christopher Rufo, who serves as a trustee of the New College of Florida, motioned at the latest board meeting to begin to dissolve the gender studies program.

His Aug. 10 resolution directed the university president to begin the termination process, though other steps may be needed. The official language was not on the university website when The College Fix checked on Tuesday.

The changes at the school are part of an ongoing realignment, including the enrollment boost, according to two officials at New College who spoke to The Fix.

“We are the first public university in America to begin rolling back the encroachment of queer theory and gender pseudoscience into academic life,” Rufo wrote on Twitter Thursday.

Left-leaning free speech nonprofit PEN America “sharply criticized” the decision to abolish the major, according to a Thursday news release from the organization.

“The New College board’s abolition of gender studies is a repressive act that echoes the actions of a repressive foreign government,” Program Director Jeremy Young stated in the release.

Meanwhile, 36 New College faculty — about one third— will not return for the fall semester, according to the Tampa Bay Times; though some of those departures are retirements and sabbaticals.

Despite the controversy, however, New College generated record enrollment numbers for the fall semester, USA Today reported in late July.

An effort to build an athletic program from the ground up by the school’s Interim President Richard Corcoran, who was named to the position by the new trustee board, has “largely driven”the increase, according to USA Today.

New College Director of Communications Nate March wrote in a Friday email to The Fix that the “excitement for the changes” is “remarkable.”

“We have been inundated with curricula vitae from faculty members from many of America’s most prestigious institutions,” March said.

“These applicants recognize the elite status of New College and understand the value of its rigorous academic standards and student-centered liberal arts curriculum,” March continued.

Additionally, “we are finalizing record hiring to meet the needs of our growing enrollment,” according to March.

Trustee and scholar Mark Bauerlein expressed also expressed hope for the college’s new direction.

“While we have lost faculty to retirement or departures, we have hired some 15 faculty members (I am not exactly sure of the numbers) and we expect to hire many more in the coming year,” Bauerlein wrote in an email to The Fix. 

Additionally, “I believe we have more than 340 new students coming in to New College next month,” the trustee stated.

However, Bauerlein left open the question of how many new students will “have talent and drive to handle a vigorous liberal education on the Oxford model.”

“Those are the key numbers of success,” he said.

DeSantis appointed six trustees to the New College board amidst a major academic and administrative overhaul at the college, formerly known as progressive, The College Fix reported in February.

Rufo was appointed to the board, joined by Bauerlein as well as Hillsdale College Government Professor Matthew Spalding, Claremont McKenna College Government Professor Charles Kesler, lawyer Debra Jenks and DeSantis’ former general counsel Joe Jacquot, The Fix reported.

“As Governor DeSantis stated in his second inaugural speech: ‘We must ensure that our institutions of higher learning are focused on academic excellence and the pursuit of truth.’” DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin said in a January statement, according to the Daily Caller.

“Starting today, the ship is turning around,” Griffin said.

“New College of Florida, under the governor’s new appointees, will be refocused on its founding mission of providing a world-class quality education with an exceptional focus on the classics.”

MORE: Provost who clashed with Chris Rufo at New College steps down

IMAGE: RonDeSantis/Twitter

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

Please join the conversation about our stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, MeWe, Rumble, Gab, Minds and Gettr.

About the Author
College Fix contributor Matthew Giffin is a student at Middle Tennessee State University studying journalism and public relations while minoring in psychology. He is the former editor of MTSU Sidelines and is involved with Reformed University Fellowship.