Florida's university system is under attack during DeSantis' tenure, according to a report from the professors' group

A report from a group of professors says academic freedom and independent governance have been under political and ideological attack in Florida's university system during the tenure of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

By means ofThe Associated Press

December 11, 2023, 12:25 PM

Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra's, R-Iowa, Faith and Family with the Feenstras event, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, in Sioux Center, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Associated Press

TALAHASSEE, Fla. — Academic freedom and independent governance have come under political and ideological attack in Florida's university system during Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' tenure, according to a report from the American Association of University Professors released this month.

The threat to Florida's higher education system accelerated this year with the takeover of New College of Florida in Sarasota by partisan DeSantis supporters, according to an AAUP committee report.

New College has become the focal point of a campaign by DeSantis, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, to rid the state's higher education of what he calls left-wing “woke” indoctrination on campuses.

In addition, the appointments of GOP politicians to the boards that govern Florida's higher education system have made them comply with the Republican governor's wishes, the report said.

A senior faculty member at the University of Florida told the AAUP committee that former administrators, regardless of party, understood that their role was to ensure that the universities they led thrived. But the current group β€œis primarily concerned with their relationships with the governor,” the report said.

β€œAt the same time, recent legislation has increased the power of the board of trustees and, to a lesser extent, local boards of trustees to dictate policy to campus boards and faculty,” the report said.

Adding to concerns about Florida's higher education system is a new law passed this year by the Republican-controlled Legislature that requires evaluation of tenured professors every five years and forces state universities to undergo a different accreditation cycle each accreditation cycle. body to be accredited, the report said. . Traditionally, tenured professors have been given indefinite academic appointments to promote academic freedom, but conservative officials in red states in the US have examined whether there should be limits.

An email seeking comment was sent to the Florida Department of Education.