Association Sanctions New College of Florida, Spartanburg Community College for Violations of Shared Governance

New College of Florida and Spartanburg Community College have been added to the American Association of University Professors’ list of institutions sanctioned for substantial noncompliance with widely accepted standards of academic government.

AAUP’s Governing Council voted on the measure Feb. 24.

New College of FloridaNew College of FloridaNew College of FloridaThe association reported details in its special committee report, Political Interference and Academic Freedom in Florida’s Public Higher Education System.

For New College of Florida, the report describes the unprecedented politically motivated takeover of New College of Florida and the imposition at that institution of an aggressively ideological agenda, marked by a complete departure from shared governance. The board of trustees and administration thoroughly restructured the college’s academic offerings without meaningful faculty involvement and denied academic due process to multiple faculty members during their tenure applications and renewals.

The report details the restructuring of New College of Florida led by Gov. Ron DeSantis, which began with his January 2023 appointment of six new members to the college’s board of trustees, who, it said, dedicated themselves to ignoring their fiduciary responsibilities to the institution in favor of pushing the governor’s political goals.

Following the ouster of then-president Patricia Okker, the board of trustees and administration eliminated the college’s Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence and its gender studies program. They also attacked tenure and imposed new admission standards and athletic programs absent meaningful faculty involvement. All these actions violate long-standing AAUP-supported principles of shared governance.

The special committee received ample evidence that these actions have seriously impaired, if not irreparably damaged, the collective and individual functions of the New College faculty, as defined in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities. Its report concludes that the takeover of the college “stands as one of the most egregious and extensive violations of AAUP principles and standards at a single institution in recent memory.”

For Spartanburg Community College, an AAUP investigating committee found that the community college administration’s abrupt and unilateral abolition of the faculty senate on April 10, 2023, was done to prevent the senate from voting that day to oppose the administration’s imposition of a policy requiring faculty members to be present on campus for almost forty hours each week.

In its message announcing the dissolution, the administration declared that “there is no shared governance” at the college outside of curricular and instructional matters. All other institutional decision-making, it continued, rests solely with the president and governing board. The administration replaced the senate with an academic council of its own devising, which included 13 administrators among its 33 members and whose bylaws restricted its deliberations to academic policy.

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