Merger Will Cost New College What Makes It Special

Guest Correspondence

BY DONAL O'SHEA SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY FEB 29, 2020

Now in its 60th year, New College is unique within Florida’s state university system. It offers a challenging educational experience that is an ideal fit for exceptional students reaching toward a future as innovative leaders. For that and many other reasons, a proposal under consideration by the Florida Legislature to merge New College into the University of Florida is a bad idea.

New College’s individualized curriculum simply does not fit within the culture of UF or any other large university, as outstanding as those institutions may be. Folding our school into another would compromise its special value and leave Florida, and some of the state’s most creative young thinkers, with nothing like it.

The idea of placing New College under a larger university has already been tried, without success. The school previously was a part of the University of South Florida, but our state leaders recognized this arrangement impeded our mission as the state’s designated Honors College.

Though our numbers are small, our impact is great. The Legislature established New College as a stand-alone institution in 2001, and that wisdom was rewarded almost immediately. The year after it became independent, New College was recognized as the #1 public liberal arts school in the country – and it has not stopped excelling since then. Our successes can be seen everywhere, from the number of Fulbright Fellowships (74 in the last 15 years, more per capita than any school in Florida) to high rankings from such renowned authorities as U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Forbes and the Princeton Review.

Most of our students would not have applied to New College if it was a branch campus of another larger university. They would have applied to a liberal arts college in another state and their extraordinary talents would have been lost to Florida, now and after graduation.

The plan before the Legislature is proposed to save tax dollars, but the truth is that it carries only

minimal prospects for savings. New College represents just 0.72% of the entire State University System budget, and the legislation will cause more disruption than any potential (but unproven) savings might justify – while threatening the very things that make our school so appealing to applicants.

New College is doing well in its mission on behalf of the State of Florida, and applications are up 30% over this time last year. But news about this pending takeover is causing students and parents to rethink their plans. We want them at New College so they can then go on to do great things to make our state and our world a better place.

New College has achieved many marks of greatness since becoming an independent public college. Lumping it under UF will cause it to lose its special identity and its rankings, and I believe this is something the State of Florida cannot afford.

Dr. Donal O’Shea is president of New College of Florida.

« View The Saturday Feb 29, 2020 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Kiss Off, Sailor

Kiss Off, Sailor

Jacob Ogles | Jul 11, 2020

Students Setting a Smart Example

Students Setting a Smart Example

Donal O'Shea | Jul 11, 2020

Freedom. Responsibility. Vote!

Freedom. Responsibility. Vote!

Jennifer Vigne | Jul 4, 2020

Guiding Lights of Our Community

Guiding Lights of Our Community

Roxie Jerde | Jul 4, 2020