Florida is making a slew of changes to its colleges, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday morning.
“We will eliminate all DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] and CRT [critical race theory] bureaucracies in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said in a news conference in Bradenton, Florida. “New College has really embraced that, and I think that’s why the enrollment is down so much, because people want to see true academics, and they want to get rid of some of the political window dressing that accompanies this.”
The governor announced changes to Florida’s higher education system including adding a core curriculum at Florida universities, reviewing tenured professors, and overhauling faculty and operations at the New College of Florida. He said the legislature directed $15 million in the 2023-2024 budget to recruiting new faculty for New College.
“It’s not just New College,” DeSantis said, “In our budget, we’re gonna put in $100 million for recruiting highly qualified faculty at all of our universities.”
DeSantis said new general education requirements at Florida universities will be rooted in “values of liberty and the western tradition,” and will “not promote ideological indoctrination.”
“The core curriculum must be grounded in actual history, the actual philosophy that has shaped western civilization,” the Florida Republican said. He said taxpayer dollars should fund “meaningful” degrees, not including majors like “zombie studies” at taxpayer extent.
The governor will require colleges and universities to “prioritize graduating students with degrees that lead to high-wage jobs,” and not those which are “designed to further a political agenda” and prohibit “political filters like DEI statements” when making hiring decisions.
DeSantis announced higher standards for Florida professors. “All tenured faculty must be reviewed every five years and can be let go if not up to standards,” DeSantis said.
The governor said boards of trustees and presidents of universities can choose to conduct tenure reviews before five years if a professor is performing poorly.
“Taxpayers of Florida deserve our best efforts across these institutions,” DeSantis said, calling for “accountability.”
DeSantis’ announcement included amending research standards to require “annual research expenditures of $50 million for STEM related programs, businesses or industry partners that will employ Floridians.” He said this will help Florida students gain employment after graduation.
“I think you have the dominant view, which is not the right view. The dominant view is the use of higher education under this view is to impose ideological conformity, to try to promote political activism,” DeSantis said. “That’s what a university should be. That’s not what we believe is appropriate in the state of Florida. Instead we need our higher education to focus on promoting academic excellence, the pursuit of truth, and to give students the foundation to think for themselves.”
“We reject indoctrination,” said State University System of Florida Chancellor Ray Rodrigues, who spoke after DeSantis.
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