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Richard Corcoran is among three finalists to become New College president

Richard Corcoran speaking into a microphone
Florida House of Representatives
New College of Florida interim president Richard Corcoran is among three finalists to become the university's permanent president.

Richard Corcoran, a former state representative, House speaker and education commissioner, has served as the interim president at New College of Florida since February.

New College of Florida interim president Richard Corcoran is among three finalists to become the school's permanent president.

On Tuesday, university officials announced a search committee selected Corcoran – along with University of Central Florida associate professor Tyler Fisher and Robert Gervasi, former interim president at the University of Mount Union in Ohio – from a list of 63 applicants.

“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,” Matthew Spalding, a university trustee and presidential search committee chair, said in the news release.

Corcoran was appointed interim president of the liberal arts college in Sarasota in February following the firingof Patricia Okker.

Corcoran previously served four terms in the Florida House of Representative, and was speaker of the House in his final term. He also was education commissioner from 2018 to 2022.

“This was an exceptionally thorough search process, and the pool of candidates was so impressive,” former faculty chair David Harvey said. “This is a critical time for New College, and I’m very proud of the quality of the finalists we’ve identified for consideration by the trustees.”

Fisher is an associate professor of modern languages and literature, a Burnett Honors College faculty fellow and core faculty in the Ph.D. program for texts and technology at UCF. Fisher is also a Rhodes scholar who earned master's and doctoral degrees in philosophy at the University of Oxford.

Gervasi served as president at Ohio Dominican University and Quincy University prior to being named interim president at Mount Union. He sits on the board of directors of the Fulbright Association and chairs its selection committee for the annual Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.

“Participating in the search process has been a great experience, and I’m excited about the quality of the finalists we identified to continue New College’s growth and development for the future,” Joshua Broyhill, a student representative for the search committee, said in the release.

As interim president, Corcoran is paid a base salary of $699,000. In early July, the search committee determined a pay range for the next president of $487,000 to $868,000.

The college did not offer a timeframe for naming its next president but said it will provide details on candidate forums and interviews on its website.

The selection would need final approval from the state's Board of Governors.

Trustee steps down

A New College of Florida alumna who served on the school’s board of trustees has resigned.

Mary Ruiz had served on the board since 2019.

She was its chair prior to the appointments of six conservative members by Gov. Ron DeSantis in January.

In a letter to the panel that oversees the state's university system, Ruiz stated her resignation was effective immediately. She did not list any reason for why she was stepping down.

The letter was posted on the website "NCF Freedom," an organization opposed to the Sarasota school's new direction.

Ruiz had frequently opposed the new trustees' votes on academic and governance issues.

According to the Florida Constitution, each state university is administered by a board of trustees consisting of 13 members. Six are appointed by the governor and five members are appointed by the Florida Board of Governors.

WUSF staff writer Cathy Carter contributed to this report.

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