Academics Block DeSantis Nominee in Florida

Florida State University
Jackson Myers/Flickr

Conservatives are expressing outrage over the elimination of Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran’s removal from a list of individuals nominated to become the next president of Florida State University, with officials in charge of the process citing threats to the school accreditation if his consideration moved forward.

Corcoran has a reputation as a “conservative firebrand” who led the charge to help Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis open schools in the state in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. He also led the effort to abolish Common Core curriculum from the public schools.

The FSU Search Committee refused to move Corcoran’s name forward and instead are pushing three other candidates — two of whom are associated with controversies on other campuses. One allegedly supports controversial Critical Race Theory, and another has ties to a Harvard University official who is set to stand trail for receiving illegal research funding from the Chinese Communist Party.

The accrediting organization for southern colleges (SACSCOC) sent a letter stating that if the search committee moved forward with Corcoran’s nomination, FSU’s accreditation could be at risk, allegedly because Corcoran held a position on a committee that would ultimately ratify the hiring of the new president.

But sources told Breitbart News that, according to governance policies, Corcoran would have to recuse himself from any vote.

“The influence of leftism in America’s universities isn’t just driven by rogue, activist professors—it has become institutionalized,” Charlie Kirk, founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, a grassroots group that advocates for conservative principles on college campuses, told Breitbart News.

“Organizations entrusted to accredit schools of higher learning are being weaponized by leftists to dictate the process by which colleges select their presidents,” Kirk said. “What we are seeing at Florida State University right now is just one example of how the left’s political agenda, not the qualifications of the candidates, reigns supreme.”

“It must stop,” Kirk said.

One of the two candidates the search committee wants to advance to be FSU’s president is Robert Blouin. While Blouin was provost, University of North Carolina supported critical race theory in a number of ways, including when the UNC history department released a statement in September 2020 opposing the Trump administration memo banning Critical Race Theory training sessions. The English Department and the School of Education offer critical Race Theory courses at UNC, and the school of social work offered a workshop last year on CRT.

A second candidate, Richard McCullough, the vice provost of research at Harvard since 2012, served during the time when Charles Lieber, chair of the Chemistry Department, was charged with illegally receiving money from the Chinese for research. Lieber was arrested in January 2020. 

This isn’t the first time that left-wing academics have tried to drum out a conservative nominee for a college leadership position in the southern region of the United States.

Just last month, SACSCOC sent a letter to the college system of Georgia warning that accreditation of the entire system might be affected if it hired as its chancellor Sonny Perdue, former Georgia governor and Secretary of Agriculture under former President Donald Trump. That search was then halted with an interim person was chosen to serve.

A third candidate made the cut for the FSU presidential selection: Tulane University vice president for research Giovanni Piedimonte.

Those three candidates will participate in open forums with students, faculty, staff, and the community next week, according to a Florida Politics report.

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