On January 31, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a series of reforms to Florida’s higher education system, in a continuation of his focus on this issue during his second term in office.
At a press conference at State College of Florida in Bradenton, the governor proposed allocating $100 million for the recruitment of “highly qualified” faculty. He also outlined his plan to allow state colleges and universities to review the status of tenured faculty members at any time. Post-tenure reviews are currently required every five years under Florida law.
Notably, the governor intends to “eliminate all DEI and CRT bureaucracies” at state institutions. DeSantis expressed to taxpayers this was part of his plan to “fund universities you can be proud of,” in contrast to colleges “spending your money on DEI faculties.”
Governor DeSantis has recently made efforts to push back against diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs, as well as critical race theory (CRT) instruction in state colleges and universities. The Collegian covered the Florida College System’s (FCS) decision to cut funds for any class or program that compels belief in critical race theory or related concepts.
The governor also reiterated his support for directing more money toward science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, proposing that state research universities spend at least $50 million annually on these programs, or related business and industry partnerships for STEM students.
After the governor spoke, Ray Rodrigues, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, discussed how Florida’s colleges and universities continue to distinguish themselves from those in other states.
“We are delivering the highest quality, at the lowest possible cost to our students,” Rodrigues said, crediting the governor and the state legislature.
Member of New College of Florida’s board of trustees, Christopher Rufo, also spoke at the press conference. Rufo harshly criticized what he characterized as the pervasive influence of DEI and CRT in Florida’s colleges. He added that he would be releasing a series of reports on this topic in the coming weeks.
Rufo specifically called out Florida State University while making his comments.
“Something I saw at Florida State that surprised me was a new one, also shaming Christian students, saying that they’re guilty of ‘religious oppression,’ and they need to atone for their ‘Christian privilege,'” Rufo said.
Offering a perspective of conservatives on campus was University of Florida student Emily Sturge, who said some of her professors are lecturing about “the importance of the COVID vaccine over actual coursework,” and “telling me that in this country, women have no rights.”
The governor’s proposed reforms also included establishing “world-class civics institutes” at the University of Florida, Florida State University, and Florida International University, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“We need our higher education system to focus on promoting academic excellence, the pursuit of truth, and to give students the foundation so that they can think for themselves,” DeSantis said.