Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is sending out a message that higher education will no longer continue in the state, as he is currently engineering a complete takeover of New College of Florida to serve as a loud warning as to what's coming to a state college campus near you.
Gov. Ron DeSantis began the process Friday of transforming Sarasota's New College of Florida into a more conservative institution, appointing six new board members, including conservative activist Christopher Rufo, a dean at conservative Hillsdale College and a senior fellow at The Claremont Institute, a right-wing think tank.
"It is our hope that New College of Florida will become Florida's classical college, more along the lines of a Hillsdale of the south," Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said in a statement.
The shakeup of the 13-member board is certain to create major tensions at New College, an institution that started as a progressive private school before becoming the state's liberal arts honors college. The small school's student body and faculty have a reputation for leaning left politically.
Turning New College into a Florida version of Hillsdale would amount to flipping it upside down, a wholesale reinvention akin to a hostile takeover, and one that many current students and faculty are likely to resist.
DeSantis aides blasted the school Friday and said an overhaul is needed.
"Unfortunately, like so many colleges and universities in America, this institution has been completely captured by a political ideology that puts trendy, truth-relative concepts above learning," said DeSantis Communications Director Taryn Fenske.
Rufo is known for his activism on transgender and racial issues, making him a leader in the new wave of conservative culture wars. He joined DeSantis when the governor signed HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education Act, which is derided by critics as the "Don't Say Gay" bill.
Rufo said in a series of Twitter posts Friday that public universities have "been corrupted by woke nihilism" and he is "ready to transform higher education from within." He said he plans to recruit new faculty to New College to "create an institution where academics can thrive, without self-censorship."
“My ambition is to help the new board majority transform New College into a classical liberal arts institution. We are recapturing higher education.” Rufo said.
Rufo recently applauded DeSantis on Twitter for requesting information on diversity, equity and inclusion and critical race theory at all Florida colleges and universities.
"Gov. DeSantis is going to lay siege to university 'diversity, equity, and inclusion' programs," Rufo wrote.
Among Rufo's goals for New College that he laid out in a tweet: Restructuring the administration, developing "a new core curriculum," eliminating diversity, equity and inclusion policies and restructuring academic departments.
Now, DeSantis isn't about to mess with a big name football school, at least not yet. But a small liberal arts honors college like New College is the perfect target to turn into Liberty University lite. The Supreme Court will make it much easier late this year when they eliminate diversity from public and private colleges and universities, and DeSantis will use New College as his testing grounds for destroying public universities nationwide should he be elected in 2024 or 2028.
This is all part of the plan.