Over the next five years, New College of Florida plans to become the best liberal arts college in America. Heavier than the crown is the price tag: The newly revamped conservative college, home to fewer than 1,000 students, is seeking $400 million, according to a business plan released last week.
President Richard Corcoran presented the plan to the Board of Governors, pending approval from Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature. Earlier this year, Gov. DeSantis appointed six new members to New College’s Board of Trustees, who ousted the sitting president and ushered in Corcoran. The president was most recently on Florida’s board of governors before resigning to take the interim presidency at New College.
The proposal comes at the heels of the college’s reportedly high faculty turnover rate, which has constrained program offerings this semester.
New College’s wish is the legislature’s command
The university has racked up a tab since New College’s overhaul in January. When announced as interim president, Corcoran’s base salary and housing stipend already doubled that of his predecessor, checking in at $699,000 and $84,000, respectively. Now, as the permanent sitting president, he is eligible for deep-pocket bonuses that can punch up his annual salary to $1.3 million a year, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.
In May, the state approved a $34 million initiative to provide scholarships, begin building repairs, and strengthen school operations, Politico reports.
“We are investing in New College,” said state Rep. Jason Shoaf. “With the new board and the new direction, we want to … [invest] in their success so we have another great institution on our list.”
The five-year business plan
With enrollment averaging around 700 students over the past 20 years, chief among New College’s aims is to boost that figure to 1,200 or more. In this framework, it plans to stabilize the number of graduates per year and improve student retention rates.
To help supplement New College’s student numbers, it aims to establish a robust athletic program. New College began offering baseball, softball, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s basketball this fall semester. In the next five years, it plans to establish 17 more programs in lacrosse, bass fishing, volleyball and more, the Florida Phoenix reports. To support these programs, it plans to enroll more than double its current number of student-athletes and remodel its fitness center to a “state-of-the-art strength and conditioning facility.”
New College aims to increase its proportion of student-athletes to make up 29% of the student body.
To welcome more students, New College is looking to revamp its campus infrastructure, a neglected issue the report claims has racked up $61 million in deferred maintenance. Students, especially non-athlete upperclassmen, have been moved into off-campus housing due to an influx of student-athletes and tightened bed availability due to mold and air quality issues at one of its dorms.
Additionally, Corcoran plans to use this money to propel New College as a beacon of education and cultural reform in the United States through its academic offerings. New College plans to open a master’s program in educational leadership aimed at producing leaders in education reform. The current academic system, outlined in the report, has “become corrupted with political agendas that undermine that (sic.) primary purposes of education practice.” The college was also recently approved $2 million to establish the “Freedom Institute,” which will fight against what Corcoran calls a “tremendous cancel culture.”