Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced six conservative board members have been appointed to the liberal New College of Florida Friday — his latest broadside against so-called wokeness as he attempts to shape education policy in the state.
The announcement of the board members comes days after the potential presidential hopeful accused his states’ higher education institutions of imposing “trendy ideology” on their students.
The public liberal arts New College is governed by a 13 member board, six of which are chosen by the governor pending approval by the state senate.
The school — ranked fifth among the nation’s public universities by US News and World Report — is the state’s smallest, with fewer than 700 students.
DeSantis’ most controversial pick for the school’s board is right-wing activist and Manhattan Institute fellow Christopher Rufo.
In a statement, DeSantis said Rufo had “lead the fight” against Critical Race Theory in American schools and other institutions.
“Rufo’s research and activism inspired a presidential order and legislation in fifteen states, where he has worked closely with conservative governors and lawmakers to craft successful public policy,” DeSantis said.
Rufo — who declares on his website that he is “driving the national conversation on critical race theory and gender ideology” — lauded the announcement in a tweet.
“Left-wing radicals have spent the past fifty years on a ‘long march through the institutions,’” he tweeted — quoting German socialist Rudi Dutschke. “We are going to reverse that process, starting now.”
“Gov. DeSantis has laid out a vision for recapturing the institutions and restoring them to American principles,” Rufo continued, adding, “Let’s do it.”
DeSantis’ board appointees also include Matthew Spalding, the dean of the school of government at Hillsdale College; Charles Kesler, editor of the Claremont Review of Books; Mark Bauerlein, a professor at Emory University and self-described “educational conservative;” Jason Speir, founder of Inspiration Academy, a Christian school in Bradenton, Florida; and Debra Jenks, a New College graduate and attorney who, according to local outlet WFLA, serves on the nominating commission for Florida’s Fourth District court of appeals.
DeSantis’ appointments come a week after his office sent a memo to the state’s Department of Education requiring it to submit a list of every program or faculty member teaching “diversity, equity and inclusion and critical race theory” at the state’s public colleges.