Corcoran Makes Short List for New College President

A committee conducting New College of Florida’s search for a new president named three finalists for the position Tuesday, with the school’s current Interim President Richard Corcoran making the short list.

Corcoran, a Republican former Florida House speaker and state education commissioner, will compete with two other finalists who have held roles in higher-education. Tyler Fisher, an associate professor of modern languages and literature at the University of Central Florida, also was named by the New College presidential search committee as a finalist for the job.

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A news release from the search committee said that Fisher is a UCF Burnett Honors College faculty fellow, and core faculty in the Ph.D. program for texts and technology.

Robert Gervasi, a former interim president at the University of Mount Union in Ohio, also is among the finalists. Gervasi previously held posts as president at Ohio Dominican University and Quincy University in Illinois. New College, a small liberal-arts school in Sarasota, has drawn intense scrutiny amid efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis and state education officials to remake the state university.

DeSantis in January appointed a slate of conservative members to the New College Board of Trustees. The revamped board subsequently elected to remove former New College president Patricia Okker, and in February voted to replace her with Corcoran on an interim basis.

Matthew Spalding, who was among the governor’s wave of appointees to the board and is chairman of the search committee, touted the process that led to the finalists. “The search committee worked diligently through a long list of highly qualified applicants to find and forward these outstanding finalists, and I thank everyone involved in the application and interview process for their interest in the future of New College,” Spalding said in a statement.

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According to Tuesday’s news release from New College, the search committee reviewed 63 applications and conducted eight interviews before landing on the three finalists.

“The committee was tasked with identifying candidates who could guide New College beyond its recent history of enrollment and economic challenges while restoring its reputation for providing a nationally-recognized liberal arts undergraduate education,” the news release said.

The finalists will be invited to undergo candidate forums with the campus community and interviews with the New College trustees. The state university system’s Board of Governors will have to give final approval to the trustees’ selection for president.

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