Board of Trustees recommend Richard Corcoran for New College President despite student opposition
Chalk art written on the overpass after the Oct. 3 Board of Trustees meeting. (Taken by Veronica Jolley.)

Board of Trustees recommend Richard Corcoran for New College President despite student opposition

The New College of Florida Board of Trustees (BOT) convened on Oct. 3 in a highly anticipated gathering. On the agenda, among budget approvals and possible campus expansion, was the approval of a New College presidential candidate, a decision that will critically shape the future of the school. Of the three people running for the position—Richard Corcoran, Dr. Robert Gervasi and Dr. Tyler Fisher—10 out of 12 trustees voted in favor of Corcoran. Corcoran was the candidate with the lowest ranking in student polls. (Please see Presidential Candidate Selection below.) The BOT meeting was held in-person in the Sudakoff Conference Center and scheduled to run from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. All 12 trustees were in attendance, with Trustees Christopher Rufo, Joe Jacquot, Charles Kesler, Matthew Spalding and Board of Governors (BOG) member Alan Levine participating via Zoom. The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance; no prayer was held as in some previous meetings since January. Then public commenters were called to the stage.  

Public Comment  

Public comment came from alums, faculty and community members. There were six total, a considerable decrease from previous meetings

“I’m part of the community that has supported this college for 60 years, and I look on in disbelief as the fabric of this institution has been shredded in nine short months,” New College alum Kathleen Cody (’64) said. “Will you choose the politically appointed interim president Richard Corcoran, who has sowed discord, distrust and fear among students, faculty and staff, who is cruel to the students he is charged with protecting, who has done his best to create a divide among the students?”  

Another alum, Mike Sanderson (‘04), claimed that Corcoran has gotten everything he wants. 

“You hire Corcoran after all this, you own this, you’re not going to be able to blame other people, this is your doing,” Sanderson said.

“In an interview with the New College newspaper, presidential candidate Tyler Fisher said he would commit to investing 20 percent of his compensation package back to student scholarships. President Corcoran, would you make the same commitment?” Rodrigo Diaz questioned. Diaz also called on the BOT to join business, civic and political leaders across Florida and pass a motion that would recognize Hispanic Heritage Month at New College.

Trustees seated and present as the Oct. 3 meeting commences. (Taken by Veronica Jolley.)

Consent Agenda 

Following public comments, Chair Debra Jenks made the motion to approve the consent agenda. Trustee Lance Karp seconded the motion. The meeting officially began with Trustee Amy Reid requesting to remove items from the agenda. Reid motioned to remove the minutes and the E&G Carry-forward Spending Plan, and to see the property report regarding a land donation by Manatee County.

“There is a discrepancy in the minutes and I believe it’s important we clarify the appropriate language,” Reid explained. “Trustee Rufo moved to direct the [interim] president and staff to take the necessary proper steps to terminate the Gender Studies Program beginning with 2024 enrollees. That, I believe, is the appropriate language and should [be] listed at the top of the page to replace the language below that has the more convoluted sentence about the process.”  

Rufo requested General Counsel Bill Galvano provide legal and technical guidance in order for the process of abolishing Gender Studies to remain consistent with “any and all regulations.” 

“I would just caution that the minutes are not a deposition transcript. It’s supposed to capture the essence,” Galvano said. “I have no issue with the recommended modifications from Trustee Reid if the Chair and the Board are good with it.”

Jenks motioned for those in favor to vote—all were in agreement. 

Budget Approvals 

Reid then brought into question the Carry-forward Spending Plan, which includes a $600,000 budget for athletics. 

“I don’t believe that this board has actually had the chance to review that,” Reid said. 

Reid claimed she requested a meeting in July for the Educational Student External Affairs Committee to discuss the athletic program specifically, and that she was promised that the meeting would take place before August. According to Reid, Trustee and Chair of the Committee Mark Bauerlein decided the meeting would be held at a later time. 

“We are now in October, that meeting has not occurred and we do not have any sense of how this budget is going to be used,” Reid commented. “So until the BOT actually has a budget that explains how the athletic program is using this money, I don’t believe we are exercising our proper fiduciary responsibility if we approve it sight unseen.”

Reid also questioned if the money is coming from the Carry-forward funds, claiming that if it is, the BOT needed clarification that the money would only be used for one-time expenses. “If it’s about start-up funds that the team needs, that’s one thing, but it shouldn’t be for recurring expenses,” she continued. 

Galvano interjected that a motion must be entertained and seconded—then the discussion could continue. Karp seconded the motion.

Jenks proceeded to call New College’s Chief Financial Officer Chris Kinsley to the podium to further explain the athletic budget and how it is being funded. 

“All the funds in the Carry-forward spending plan are from the Carry-forward account,” Kinsley confirmed. “And this is our spending plan for those dollars. So all the dollars, including the line item you question, the athletic startup funds are coming from the reserves,” he continued. “So just based on the nature of those funds, those are one time dollars.”

Carry-forward is an annual process in which budgets are adjusted in August of each academic year to account for ending balances from the prior fiscal year. For example, a fund that ended in the 2022 fiscal year with a positive residual balance would have a Carry-forward of the same amount in the 2023 fiscal year, and this balance would be available to be spent. Negative residual balances are carried forward as well. The Carry-forward process provides units on a campus the opportunity to distribute or re-allocate their Carry-forward balances to different funds, organizations, accounts, programs, activities and locations (FOAPAL) so long as it stays within the same fund and organizational level. 

According to Kinsley, previous to 2024 the Florida Legislature restricted Carry-forward funds to be spent only for non-recurring purposes. The law was changed in 2023 for all universities; the funds can now be spent for any purpose, recurring or non-recurring. 

“But the source of the funds is non-recurring,” he said.

“As far as the athletic startup funds, the athletics budget is still being developed,” Kinsley said. “These funds would be very helpful, as I will attest as your CFO, our programs in a startup year are really operating in what I would say is a very frugal manner.”

Kinsley explained there are many costs associated with the athletics program, including equipment, uniforms, etc. He noted that regardless of whether or not the budget was approved by the BOT or the BOG, the athletics programs would survive. 

“It will just help make us able to be a little more, I won’t say less frugal, but maybe that’s the word. We’ll still be frugal, but just a little less frugal.” He reiterated, “We are not counting on these dollars, but it would be ever so helpful to have those.” Reid thanked Kinsley for the explanation, though it raised more questions on her part. She questioned why the BOT would allocate funds in the absence of a finalized athletic budget and if the dollars were not immediately necessary.

“I want to clarify if I said that it’s unnecessary, far from it. These funds are important,” Kinsley responded. “If we don’t get approved for these dollars, we will have to be even more on a shoestring later in the package, and I think this is one of the items you asked to pull off of the consideration as well, the New College Foundation budget. We are looking for $400,000 of support from our foundation, which will come from funds from fundraising and sponsorships.”

Kinsley further explained that a budget does exist, and it’s just a difficult process to start a program “midstream.”

Reid suggested the budget approval be deferred to the upcoming Oct. 20 BOT meeting, as it seemed a more appropriate time to decide. She claimed the board had yet to see the athletic program budget. Corcoran responded by saying he strongly urged the board to “not do that.” 

“It’s [the budget] not broken down by the penny. It’s not six softballs, six baseballs. It’s not broken down,” Corcoran continued. “We do that on every line item. And when you get through the end of the budget cycle, and you didn’t spend $400,000, you spent $300,000, that becomes Carry-forward funds that we have for us to be able to spend again.”

Corcoran continued  to say that $20,000 would be allocated for consultants, $150,000 for campus celebrations, noting that it is not known if all of that money will be spent but it will be treated the same as the $600,000 athletic fund. Specifics on where all the funds are being sourced from were not stated. 

Kinsley noted that until the BOT approved the budget report, no money from the New College Foundation could be spent, including funds that would go towards NCF’s division chairs and academics. 

“The goal on every single front is to do more, spend more, give more, give people more raises than last year,” Corcoran claimed. “And that will be consistent. And you can be sure to call me on the carpet if that’s inaccurate.”

Jenks motioned to approve the E&G Carry-forward Spending Plan for the fiscal 2023-2024 year. Eleven trustees were in favor. Reid opposed, commenting on the amount of budget uncertainty on campus. “Given that our division chairs do not have the confidence that they’re going to have the budgets necessary to run the searches for academic positions that they need to run this year, I’m concerned about having budgets with large amounts that are unaccounted for approved at this point,” she said.  

Student Trustee and New College Student Alliance (NCSA) Co-president Grace Keenan added after the vote that, in her opinion, the way the BOT is presenting budgets isn’t adequate enough to make accurate decisions. 

“I’ve sent and shared with both of you [Kinsley and Corcoran] what other universities do for budgets, and we still have not done that,” Keenan said. “It’s been a couple months. So I think this hopefully is the last call for us to change how we present budgets. So maybe that’s what we can get out of this discussion.”

Corcoran reassured Keenan that future budgets would be in greater detail. “You have my promise that’s the case.”

Jenks motioned for the approval of the New College Foundation 2023-2024 fiscal year budget. Eleven trustees were in favor, with Trustee Reid voting in opposition. It was not specified if already established athletics such as rowing, sailing, or the intramural basketball team—one of the older sports on campus—will be included in receiving a portion of the budget. 

Additional Minutes Request 

Christaldi requested if Kinsley, who is also the Chair of the Finance Administration Committee, could add an additional 30 minutes to the meetings when ‘budget workshop sessions’ are involved, noting the lack of time to fully discuss the information they are presented. 

“It would be a pleasure to do that. We will work with the president just to schedule that additional time in the next committee meeting,” Kinsley responded. 

2023 New College Equity Report

An issue arose on the equity report regarding a chart that said there were no male and female undergraduate enrollees or students in athletic participation, pointed out by Reid. She requested that it be corrected. 

Vice President of Legal Affairs David Brickhouse explained the error had occurred because the report was from the last academic year when there were no intercollegiate sports. 

“I understand that, but in the first block it’s actually total students, there’s two blocks that are participating in athletics, and those are zero. And I don’t actually think they should be,” Reid continued. “Because we do have students.” 

Brickhouse responded by asking Jenks to approve the report with errors for technical modifications. 

Reid also brought up the lack of athletics being listed other than the intramural sports. 

“That’s actually not correct. We had several teams that competed with other colleges and in communities,” she said. “So whether we’re talking about the rowing team in particular, or the students who competed in the swimming nationals, we did have students competing in athletics.” 

Brickhouse said the previous sports were clubs, not intramurals and called it unfair to characterize them as such.  

“There’s a differentiation for the two—and we picked it up from the previous equity report, followed by the previous administration,” Brickhouse said. “I wasn’t on the board then, so I think it’s an error that should be fixed. If you have a motion and a second, and generally you defer to our general counsel, they’ll go down. But you’re allowed to make technical script errors and corrections. 

“That is correct,” Jenks responded. 

“That’s that,” Brickhouse said. 

The motion to correct the error passed and the equity report was approved. 

Manatee County Land Donation

General Counsel Bill Galvano was asked to explain his agenda item consisting of a nine-acre land donation to New College by Manatee County. The nine acres are to the north of campus, surrounded by the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) on both sides, and are zoned for public interest. Galvano stated that the land allowed for a “multitude of uses” such as “veterinary agriculture, offices, medical, retail, housing and dormitories.”

“What this vote would mean for this BOT is that you would simply be authorizing the President to engage in discussion with the County Attorney and post the vote, which I suspect will be positive, to enter into a donation agreement,” Galvano said. “You’re not accepting the property at this point, nor are they actually transferring the property on Oct.10, because an agreement has to take place as part of [it].” 

The nine-acre land parcel had originally been offered to USFSM in 2020. According to Galvano, USFSM and Manatee County entered a donation agreement, with 90 days and then six months to enter an official agreement. On July 25, three years later, no deal was entered and the county terminated the offer.  

Reid questioned Galvano about why the land was not accepted by USFSM —Galvano responded that he would not comment on why the USF campus never entered an official agreement and suggested the board move forward with a vote. 

Jenks motioned for a vote on whether or not the [interim] president could be authorized to “secure the donation agreement,” a motion that passed, although not all  trustees voted in favor. 

Presidential Candidate Selection

The selection of a presidential candidate began following a five-minute break at 2:45 p.m. Jenks began by thanking the presidential search committee, then requested Board Governor and member of the search committee Alan Levine to say a few words. Levine began by thanking Corcoran for “stepping in at what was obviously a very tumultuous and difficult time.” 

Levine stated that the committee was well-constructed, and the discourse was respectful. He said everything the committee did was transparent and there were no secret votes. 

“I was impressed with the depth, the breadth and the quality of the people that you attracted, and certainly the three finalists that came to the board for interviews and to the campus community,” Levine offered. “I think most people would probably agree that those are very high caliber people, and that speaks well of the articulated vision of New College and the governance of New College.” 

Following Levine, Jenks asked Trustee Mathew Spalding to describe the process the search committee went through to decide the final candidates. 

“I think it was an excellent process,” Spalding said. “I was very happy with how it all went throughout.”

In an estimated number, Spalding explained that out of some 60 candidates, the committee met and all voted on the record, narrowing the number down to three. “I have to say it was kind of hard to get it down to these three. We had some very qualified candidates and we picked the three we think are most qualified,” Spalding continued. “All of them are highly qualified to be President of New College.”  

Jenks further explained that the trustees received recordings of the on-campus forums held for the presidential candidates, as well as survey results from 10 respondents providing insight on the position. She then suggested a motion to discuss further, then a vote would be taken by roll call. The candidate with the majority votes would be the finalist that the BOG will have to officially approve.  

Keenan reported on student input to the BOT that was compiled from surveys sent to students’ emails and collected during NCSA open office hours. According to her, students had concerns about the presidential search process, one being that the student chosen for the committee was not an elected student or student leader in any capacity. The second concern came from the fact that students were given one opportunity to interview the candidates themselves at meetings that were only 45 minutes long and held at 9:00am. In the email survey, students were asked to rank the candidates in the order of whom they most and least preferred. 

“Dr. Fisher ranked in first. Students said that one of the biggest things they noticed is that he took the time to come speak with students in the Hamilton “Ham” Center.” Former New College President Patricia Okker did this every Wednesday, sitting in during the Ham lunch hour and occasionally joined by other faculty, to share a table and speak with students.  

In the survey students expressed that Fisher’s Oxford education would allow him to understand the New College academic system very well. This was something Fisher made clear he wanted to preserve in a handout that briefly summarized his vision were he to be the final candidate. “They also felt that he would be a good person to bring back trust amongst the students, faculty and administration because he had experience in all three capacities,” Keenan said. 

Keenan relayed that students ranked Dr. Gervasi in second place. She explained that despite a perceived lack of clarity on what his vision for the school was, they did prefer him over Corcoran. 

“And finally for Mr. Corcoran. The top comment was that despite being interim president, he had not come to speak to students to open himself up for conversation about the presidential search his entire time as interim president—yet Dr. Fisher did,” Keenan said. 

While Keenan noted she saw the value in having someone who has political connections, that is only part of what goes into being president. She cited student concerns about communication, lack of trust and the housing situation, which she and those who experienced it described as chaotic and unacceptable. 

“It is very clear from the students that he was ranked last,” Keenan continued. 

Reid asked to hear from other members of the board and their perceptions of the candidates. 

“The job title indicated that we needed to see someone with academic accomplishments, someone with demonstrated leadership experience, and someone who would be good about collaborating with stakeholders,” Reid said. “So I’d be interested in hearing from the people at this table and those on Zoom about how they perceive the three different candidates in terms of those qualities.”

The majority of Trustees proceeded to voice their support for Corcoran alongside BOG member Adam Levine. It was said that Corcoran had the “personality” and “character” needed to be president of New College, as, according to Trustee Rufo, he isn’t afraid to “rock the boat.”. 

“I think he’s done a great job getting us where we are today. I know things are not perfect where we are, and I know we have a lot of work going forward,” said Karp. “But as a trustee, prior to this year beginning, I would say that unfortunately we had some challenges and headwinds facing this school and the campus prior.” 

Karp claimed for “the first time there’s a lot of positivity and a lot of optimism that I’m seeing around campus and hearing from students and hearing from people.”  

“If I can make a couple of comments,” Reid began. “I took a moment to look up the criteria, which I encourage everyone to look at to refresh themselves. But what we wanted to search for is a distinguished scholar or leader dedicated to the advancement of academic scholarship and a PhD or advanced terminal degree.”

Spalding began by saying he wanted to remind the board of the situation “which we’re in.” He claimed that when the majority of the members came on the board the wisest thing that could have been done was to close down New College. He cited an apparent $100 million cost of deferred maintenance. His point was that he felt the school is not under a normal situation. 

“I think we have three highly qualified candidates. I actually like all three of them. I think they would all be excellent presidents of a college, especially a liberal arts college like New College,” Spalding said.  

Several trustees had similar comments on the candidates, claiming they liked all three of them, but all sided with Corcoran. 

“I think it’s instructive that the students really liked him [Fisher]. I’m inclined to support the interim president, but then to encourage him to find a way of hiring Dr. Fisher here in some other capacity,” Karp said. “I mean, because it just strikes me. Whether it’s Dean or the Vice President or Provost or something in between, he’s gonna make a great university president. I don’t think the time is now for him, but since the students seem so fond of him, I’m sure there’s a role for him here.

“The reason that I would lean toward Interim President Corcoran is because of the special circumstances here, the political issues, the contacts in Tallahassee,” Karp continued. “My choice would be Interim President Corcoran, with an understanding that maybe a year or two years from now a different profile might be a better selection as president.” 

Rufo said the “problem” at New College and other universities is that there is an ethos of; ‘go along to get along.’ “We have a homogenous higher education system, and at New College, we’re trying to break out of that and do something radically different.” He continued by saying he believes the board’s primary and core mission is to reestablish public authority over the public university system, which according to Rufo has “broken that social contract with the public.”

“I’ve been interested to hear the comments. I wish people had actually addressed the question that I’d asked, which was to speak specifically to the characteristics of the different candidates,” Reid stated.

Reid spoke on behalf of the faculty at New College as the Faculty Representative on the committee. Reid agreed that Corcoran’s strengths did lie in his political connections and have resulted in bringing money to the campus. She also said he failed to build campus consensus over these past months and that there have been many issues, including the firing of his own Communications and Marketing VP on Oct. 2. 

“What I really need to address at the moment is the question of process. Specifically, members of the BOT had just one brief opportunity to meet with the candidates on Aug. 10, and only about half of the board was able to do so,” Reid said. “Trustees Spalding, Bauerlein, Keenan, Chair Jenks and myself were in person, and there were a couple of other trustees on Zoom when the candidates were invited to campus. Two brief forums were held, only two 45-minute-long sessions with students, followed by a session for faculty and staff, which were postponed due to the hurricane. 

“Whether you are hiring for a part-time job or hiring a faculty member or searching for an executive, you always ensure that there are ample opportunities for the candidate to meet with and interact with different constituencies, including over meals,” Reid said. “It matters because if you want to have someone be successful in their job, they need to have a good sense of the organization they’re joining, and they need the opportunity to establish a basis for communicating and trust.” 

Reid brought up an email she had sent on Aug. 31 to two representatives of the presidential search, asking that when the events were rescheduled and that they be reconfigured to allow for greater participation from the campus. Since the forum was scheduled between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. while classes were being held, many faculty and students were unable to attend. On Aug. 31, Reid shared a schedule of the campus visits from the previous presidential search that yielded former President Okker, when there were a total of five different events, open meetings, and formal presentations made by each of the candidates, so that faculty, students and staff could not just hear from, but also interact with the different candidates. There were additionally other closed meetings scheduled, including with the division chairs and a dinner with the members of the BOT. 

According to Reid, she sent a total of three emails. She sent the first to the Presidential Search email account and to Professor of History and New College Educational Policy Committee Chair David Harvey, who was the faculty representative on the search committee, as well as BOT Liaison Christie Fitzpatrick. She said Harvey replied, suggesting that an additional lunchtime meeting would be a good idea and expressing general support for the expanded opportunities for the campus to get to know the candidates. On Sept. 5 Reid sent a second email to the previous recipients and Chair of the Search Committee Trustee Spalding. She sent the third email on Sept. 11, this time including the New College President’s Office and staff who have been involved in board communications. She reported that there were no further replies. Reid asked for her three emails to be included in the presidential search record, and said she would also provide electronic copies of the emails for the BOT minutes.

Reid said that in the 12 days leading up to the BOT meeting, a number of faculty members had shared with her that they had not had an adequate opportunity to assess the candidates to determine which, if any, were qualified to lead New College. She suggested that the move on a vote was premature. She moved to delay any vote on the presidential candidates, and that the BOT convene a committee to review the process and decide whether additional discussions and presentations should be held with the three. Members of the audience began to clap after the motion was suggested. 

“Your motion is out of order,” said Jenks. Reid asked if it would be appropriate to offer a motion to delay the vote. General Counsel Bill Galvano responded that a motion could not be made at that point in time; due to another motion already being in place, only a motion to table the vote would be appropriate. A majority ruled “nay.”  

Jenks proceeded with the roll call vote for President of New College of Florida. Anderson, Bauerlein, Jacquot, Kessler, Karp, Mackie, Rufo, Spalding, Jenks and Christaldi voted for Corcoran, Keenan for Dr. Fisher and Reid for Dr. Gervasi. Except for Rufo, who silently clapped on Zoom, there was no applause afterwards.    

Corcoran has now been chosen as the final candidate to engage in negotiations with the BOT designee—Jenks designated Christaldi—to come together with an employment contract first to the BOG council, then to the BOT and back to the BOG.

Athletes and faculty in the audience at the Oct. 3 Board of Trustees meeting. (Taken by Veronica Jolley.)

Items of Business 

There was one new item of business, approval of the New College of Florida textbook and instructional materials affordability report for the Fall 2022-Spring 2023 semester. Bauerlein seconded the motion and Brickhouse began to explain that the annual report was required by the BOG. 

“This is a largely statistical report of our performance over the last academic years,” Brickhouse said. “If there’s any particular questions, otherwise I would suggest that the report mainly speaks for itself.” 

Jenks motioned to approve the report and it passed with no objections. Following the vote, Reid stated that she wanted to make a motion for the board to approve a statement in support of Hispanic Heritage Month. She specifically wanted the BOT to join the Florida Department of Education, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis and many other Floridians from all walks of life in acknowledging the contributions of the Hispanic community to the state of Florida during Hispanic Heritage Month. 

“In particular, the board takes this moment to recognize the contribution of Hispanic members of the New College community—faculty, staff and students—to the advancement of the College over its 60 years.” 

Reid also asked that the board affirm the importance of Hispanic workers in agriculture, construction and hospitality, childcare, healthcare and other industries in the spirit of Nan Freeman, an 18-year-old New College student who lost her life in 1972 while supporting the Hispanic farm workers in Florida and those “central to the development of Florida and to the wellbeing of all Floridians.”  

“I’ll take this one up for discussion,” Rufo said. 

Rufo said that while he thought they all could appreciate the contributions of the Hispanic community like any other community, he worried that approving the statement would set a precedent. “And it’s probably too small of an issue. We can perhaps delegate this to the administration, which can go through the proper process,” he said. “I would just hate to set a precedent where we would be voting on a very small item and lose sight of the bigger picture.

“I would also like to note that New College, under Richard Corcoran’s leadership, we’ve recruited more Latino and Hispanic students than I believe any time in the college’s history,” Rufo continued. “So I think we should lead with our actions and deeds that we’re doing. We have brave new students from a diversity of backgrounds now, even, or maybe because of abolishing the DEI [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion] department.”
Bauerlein stated he felt uncomfortable giving a “wing and all that,” because he is not familiar with the Freeman case. Reid offered to walk Bauerlein to a commemorative mural on campus, although what the mural commemorates was not made clear to the audience as Bauerlein interjected with, “No, thank you.” Reid was referring to the mural located on the academic side of campus by the ACE building breezeway, painted by alumna Danielle Dygart, whose goal was to honor Freeman and to inspire current and future students to continue working for justice.

Mural of Nan Freeman supporting two Hispanic farm workers on strike in the 70s. The artist is Danielle Dygert. (Courtesy of the New College Facebook page.)

Spalding said his understanding is that motions under new business are inappropriate. Galvano responded that it depends on the subject matter of the motion. 

“There may be matters that require conditions of precedent to be that [inappropriate], but I don’t see one in this motion,” Galvano said.

“In that case I’d like to amend the [my] motion consistent with Trustee Rufo’s comments that this matter be sent to the administration with the instruction for them to act appropriately,” Spalding said. 

Reid responded by saying she didn’t believe the amendment was friendly. Rufo then addressed Reid directly by announcing that Columbus Day would be the following week, something “very important” to him, and asked if she would recommend the board endorse and celebrate Columbus Day on behalf of the “great Italian-Americans in the state of Florida and around the country.” 

“Actually on campus there will be a celebration for Indigenous People’s Day next Monday [Oct. 9],” Reid said.  

New College of Florida recently added Columbus Day to its 2023-2024 academic calendar. The State of Florida is among 16 states that do not celebrate this as a state holiday, and it has been replaced in some other states by Indigenous Peoples’ Day in order to honor their sovereignty and celebrate the contributions Indigenous people have made to the world.  

Rufo seconded Spalding’s amended motion that determined whether the board would participate in “the celebration of the Hispanic movement.” Spalding was adamant that the matter fall on administration, not the board. All were in favor of Spalding’s amendment except Keenan and Reid. A second vote took place to decide if announcing support for Hispanic Heritage Month would be at administration’s discretion. The majority were in favor of referring Reid’s request to the administration. 

“I just want to ask my fellow trustees as a courtesy to each of us, if we have things we’d like to raise, let’s try to get them on the agenda and submit any materials so we can all digest it,” Christaldi said. He said that it’s an uncomfortable position for the board members to have to take up substantive issues of new business unless they’re emergent. Jenks concluded the meeting at 3:47 p.m.

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