Liberal Professors Fleeing Florida in Record Numbers: Report

A new report suggests that left-wing professors are leaving Florida in record numbers following the DeSantis administration’s education reforms targeting woke curriculum and diversity initiatives.

According to an article published Sunday by the New York Times, turnover rates are spiking at Florida universities, with many left-leaning faculty describing the conservative reforms as a significant factor in their decision. Most prominently featured in the professors’ complaints was a May 2023 law defunding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs at Florida public universities and the 2022 Parental Rights in Education law prohibiting discussion of sex and gender in elementary schools.

One such professor is Neil Buchanan, who until recently taught at the University of Florida, according to The Times. The publication cited a recent column by Buchanan on the legal commentary site Justia.

“Although there are always various idiosyncratic factors that weigh into a decision to change jobs and uproot one’s life, Florida Republicans’ increasingly open hostility to professors and to higher education more generally was as close to a but-for cause of my decision as one could imagine.  In that sense, it is fair to describe my situation as one in which ‘the other guys won.'”

Buchanan argued in his column that the pushing away of left-leaning professors was the goal of the DeSantis administration’s education reforms, to which he added, “In this case: Mission accomplished.”

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Dr. Walter Boot is reportedly another such professor. In a column published in the Tallahassee Democrat, he cited Florida prohibiting discussions of sex and gender ideology with elementary schoolers as a major factor leading him to quit his tenured position at Florida State University.

“The run-up and aftermath of [the Parental Rights in Education Law’s] passage involved hostile rhetoric painting queer and trans individuals as pedophiles and groomers, rhetoric that came not just from citizens but from state officials,”

Boot also cited the LGBTQ “travel advisories” issued by the Human Rights Campaign as evidence of the “very real perils of traveling to or living in Florida while queer or trans.”

The Times said it had interviewed “a dozen” academics for its article. The newspaper also cited Florida State University Vice President for Faculty Development Janet Kistner, who reported during a university senate meeting in September that the “political climate in Florida” had contributed to a rise in turnover. Kistner said 37 professors had left FSU in the past year for reasons other than retirement, up from an average of 23 in the five years prior.

In a statement to The Times, writer and New College trustee Chris Rufo wrote, “To me, this is a net gain for Florida,”

“Professors who want to practice D.E.I.-style racial discrimination, facilitate the sexual amputation of minors, and replace scholarship with partisan activism are free to do so elsewhere. Good riddance.”

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While many conservative commentators celebrated the news of leftist professors fleeing Florida, not all Republicans accepted that narrative by the New York Times. President of the University of Florida and former U.S. Senator Ben Sasse rejected The Times’ article, dedicating ten posts on the social media platform X to debunking it.

“The biggest source of turnover isn’t politically disaffected professors, but doctors who decide to go make more money in private practice. We gave the Times the breakdown of turnover by college. But they weren’t interested…”

“UF employs well over 4000 faculty. Each year, folks come & go: retirements, new jobs, etc. Our attrition rate is well below the 10.6% national average. This isn’t something we ‘say’— it’s a FACT, & facts should matter,” Sasse wrote.

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