New College of Florida trustee calls for new president, termination of all faculty contracts
- Eddie Speir, a recent appointee to New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees, outlined his intentions to call for the demotion of the university’s current president, Pat Okker.
- During the Board’s first meeting since being overhauled by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Speir plans to introduce a motion to make Okker an interim president as a search for a new leader begins.
- Speir also seeks to terminate the contracts of all university faculty, staff, and administration before launching a subsequent rehiring process.
- DeSantis captured headlines earlier this month after he appointed six individuals, including Speir, with conservative backgrounds to New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees. New College is often referred to as the state’s most liberal higher education institution.
Eddie Speir, a recent appointee to New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees published a Substack post on Sunday night outlining his intentions for Tuesday’s trustee meeting. Among Speir’s objectives include the demotion of the university’s current president and terminating all contracts for faculty, staff, and administration.
One of Speir’s first orders of business, according to his post, is to begin the search process for a new president of the university. Per his agenda, Speir plans to introduce a motion to “discuss [the] need for [a] new president and possible motion to give Pat Okker title of Interim President.”
Okker has served as New College’s president since July 2021.
Under Speir’s objective, the Board of Trustees, which Gov. Ron DeSantis Recently appointed six individuals to, re-shaping its political makeup, would lead a national search for a new leader that better aligns with the new board’s vision for the school.
In addition to a change of leadership, Speir also plans to introduce a motion to declare a financial emergency at the university before terminating all contracts of members of New College’s faculty, staff, and administration.
Should his motion be adopted, all terminated employees would be subjected to a subsequent rehiring process contingent on their role in the Board’s desired construction of the university’s future curriculum standards.
“I move that we as a board approve a letter to the new counsel of this board to ask for a legal opinion regarding our ability to declare a financial emergency and employ a zero-based budgeting policy of terminating all contracts for faculty, staff, and administration and immediately rehiring those faculty, staff, and administration who fit in the new financial and business model,” wrote Speir.
DeSantis captured statewide headlines earlier this month after he was appointed Matthew Spalding, Christopher Rufo, Dr. Charles R. Kesler, Dr. Mark Bauerlein, Debra Jenks, and Speir to New College’s Board of Trustees.
All six individuals hold conservative backgrounds and Rufo is best known for his criticisms of Critical Race Theory, a political subject area championed by DeSantis in recent months.
The appointments drew immediate shock responses, given the New College of Florida’s liberal leanings.
The university’s publicly-posted value statement reads that it aims to provide a “just, diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.” The statement continues by outlining that the institution “seeks a balance between recognizing and celebrating difference” and “ensuring that historically marginalized and oppressed groups are not experiencing trauma and harm.”
New College has been marked by low student enrollment rates, low graduation rates, and poor financial statements in recent years, leading the Governor to take action, according to his office.
“New College of Florida has reached a moment of critical mass, wherein low student enrollment and other financial stresses have emerged from its skewed focus and impractical course offerings,” DeSantis’ office said. The Capitolist.