Host: Three weeks ago, New College President Richard Corcoran invited media to the historic Ringling mansion on campus, rolled out a billionaire activist and his foundation, showed a promotional video with epic soundtrack, and presented a logo featuring Einstein, Euclid, and the “Shoulders of Giants” slogan. All this, to showcase an online program set to start this spring term – in other words, this week. Most teachers at the small college were not part of the planning, and are up in arms. Now it turns out that the rollout of the program is less than epic, as Florence Fahringer learned.
[soundtrack promotional video]
Florence Fahringer: This is the soundtrack of a promotional video promoting a contentious new online program at New College of Florida that was slated to launch this week. The online program is the latest in the saga of the New College takeover-and-makeover by Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies. This online program was detailed as offering one-year certificates and two-year degrees, through an entirely online curriculum.
Corcoran presented Chicago billionaire Joe Ricketts during the launch press conference.
When it was announced a month ago, it raised concerns of the New College faculty chair, along with the vast majority of her fellow professors. The one faculty member fully vested in the new program was Dr. David Harvey, the history professor chosen by the new administration to be the dean of the burgeoning program.
In the announcement, the administration claimed that this program would be up and running in the spring semester, meaning Harvey had one month to get the show on the road. When asked to comment on how launch-week was going, Harvey said he’d be happy to discuss the program later in the month, once the program was more organized, describing the courses this semester as a “pilot” program, exclusive to currently enrolled New College students. He added that recruitment for the program begins this spring, and the fully-fledged program is slated to launch in the fall semester.
New College faculty voted to condemn the online program, in a nearly unanimous 25-1 vote on a resolution which lists the faculty’s grievances with the program. It was to be expected then that this program was unable to offer any courses taught by New College professors, with the course on the mathematician Euclid taught by a visiting assistant professor; and another course taught by a new addition to the faculty — so new that he lacks a page on the New College faculty website, and is reportedly teaching the class remotely.
Enrollment numbers for these three classes are unknown until students’ academic contracts are certified, which happens next week. It is also unknown whether or not these classes will count towards the one-year certification and/or two-year degree detailed in the original plan for the program.
This is Florence Fahringer, reporting for WSLR News.
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