Will a small, quirky Florida college become ‘DeSantis U’?

Randy Fine, a Republican state representative, thought New College of Florida was a travesty — a bastion of liberalism and a money-suck for taxpayers. At the LGBTQ-friendly

campus, which some have dubbed “Barefoot U,” bookish seminars are popular, classes are given pass-fail and fraternity parties don’t exist. When students couldn’t settle on a

mascot, they embraced a mathematical symbol instead: a pair of empty braces denoting the “null set.” There’s no football team for the 660 students to root for anyway.

Fine, like many conservatives, wanted New College gone. So in 2020, the lawmaker from Melbourne Beach, Fla., introduced a bill that would have merged the Sarasota school with a

larger state university. But his Tallahassee colleagues weren’t on board, and the measure died in the legislature. Then, earlier this month, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)

appointed six new members to the school’s board of trustees, including some outspoken conservatives. At the “genius” of this plan, Fine, a Harvard graduate, could only marvel.

“The institution as it exists will be effectively shut down and be rebuilt as ‘DeSantis University’ or whatever it gets called,” Fine said. “It’s a brilliant idea. I wish

I’d thought of it.”