SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: April 26, 2023

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):New College of Florida

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 26, 2023, New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees denied the tenure requests of five New College of Florida professors in an act that was apparently politically motivated.

Prior to the April 26 Board of Trustees meeting, New College interim president Richard Corcoran reportedly sent a memo asking the board to deny or defer the tenure requests of the five professors due to “current uncertainty of the needs” of the university. During the meeting, Corcoran noted that seven faculty members had originally been up for tenure but ultimately two withdrew their applications as he requested.

Four trustees voted to approve the professors’ tenure, including Grace Keenan, the student-body president trustee, and Matthew Lepinski, the faculty trustee. Six trustees, all politically appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, rejected the tenure requests, some suggesting that they had made that decision because each of the five professors was in their fifth year at the university. Most faculty are available for tenure only in their sixth year at New College.

Prior to the decision, colleagues and students at New College had positively endorsed the five professors’ application for tenure.

The decision not to approve the five professors’ tenure, comes after the firing of the University’s President Patricia Okker (see SAR report) and Yoleidy Rosario-Hernandez, the college’s top diversity officer, who lost her position when the university closed the Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the refusal of otherwise widely supported meritorious promotions to professors in apparent reprisal for the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and differing political ideologies. University authorities have an obligation to refrain from retaliatory actions intended to punish, restrict, or chill the exercise of academic freedom so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, denial stemming from such activity undermines academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.

Sources:
https://www.chronicle.com/article/shame-on-you-over-fiery-protests-floridas-new-college-trustees-deny-5-tenure-bids
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/governance/trustees-regents/2023/04/27/new-college-board-denies-tenure-5-professors
https://www.highereddive.com/news/new-college-of-florida-denies-five-professors-tenure-defying-student-facu/648760/
https://www.tampabay.com/news/education/2023/04/26/new-college-of-florida-desantis-tenure-deny-corcoran-trustees/

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El 26 de abril de 2023, el Consejo de Administración del New College de Florida denegó las solicitudes de titularidad de cinco profesores del New College de Florida en un acto que aparentemente tenía motivaciones políticas.

Antes de la reunión del Consejo de Administración del 26 de abril, el presidente interino del New College, Richard Corcoran, envió un memorándum en el que pedía al consejo que denegara o aplazara las solicitudes de titularidad de los cinco profesores debido a la incertidumbre actual sobre las necesidades de la universidad. Durante la reunión, Corcoran señaló que siete miembros del profesorado habían sido originalmente candidatos a la titularidad, pero finalmente dos retiraron sus solicitudes, tal y como él había pedido. Cuatro miembros del consejo de administración votaron a favor de la titularidad de los profesores, entre ellos Grace Keenan, presidenta del consejo de administración estudiantil, y Matthew Lepinski, presidente del consejo de administración docente. Seis administradores, todos nombrados políticamente por el gobernador de Florida Ron DeSantis, rechazaron las solicitudes de titularidad, sugiriendo algunos que habían tomado esa decisión porque cada uno de los cinco profesores estaba en su quinto año en la universidad. La mayoría de los profesores sólo pueden optar a la titularidad en su sexto año en New College.

Antes de la decisión, colegas y estudiantes de New College habían respaldado positivamente la solicitud de titularidad de los cinco profesores. La decisión de no conceder la titularidad a los cinco profesores se produce tras el despido de la Presidenta de la Universidad, Patricia Okker, y de Yoleidy Rosario-Hernández, la máxima responsable de diversidad de la universidad, que perdió su puesto cuando la universidad cerró la Oficina de Divulgación y Excelencia Inclusiva.

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Scholars at Risk (SAR) is a member of the Coalition for Academic Freedom in the Americas (CAFA), and partners with CAFA on Americas-focused monitoring activities. Relevant incidents, with factual details translated into Spanish, appear on both SAR and CAFA websites.

Scholars at Risk (SAR) es una institución que integra la Coalición por la Libertad Académica en las Américas (CLAA). SAR trabaja junto con la CLAA en el monitoreo de situaciones en las Américas. Los incidentes relevantes que reportamos, con descripción de hechos detallados en español, aparecen tanto en los portales de SAR como de la CLAA.