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New College of Florida President Richard Corcoran receives $200,000 bonus, bumping salary to $900,000

Board approves measure 12-1
Posted at 9:33 PM, Apr 11, 2024

SARASOTA, Fla. — The president of the New College of Florida is about to get a big bump in bonus pay.

This is on top of his annual salary which already makes him one of the highest-paid college presidents in Florida.

As his first full academic year at the school nears the end Richard Corcoran, New College's politically connected new president will be pocketing a bonus that’s more than what most people earn in a year.

The $200,000 pricey perk spikes Corcoran's first-year salary from $699,000 to $900,000 — not including benefits.

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It keeps him among the highest-paid presidents in Florida's public university system despite leading its smallest campus with just under 700 students.

New College professor Dr. Amy Reid was the sole board member to vote against the bonus check.

"In this moment, I think it's a hard sell to ask private donors to be funding a very large salary for a talented politician," trustee Dr. Amy Reid said. "But in this moment, when our school has so many other greater needs, I think the money could be used to better ends."

The performance-based bonus was approved after board members described a successful first year for Corcoran, who is a former Republican lawmaker, state education commissioner and consistently strong political ally of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Since his arrival to the Sarasota campus as part of Desantis' so-called "war on woke" in higher education, Corcoran's accomplishments have included increasing student enrollment, expanding the school's athletics department and recently securing $50 million in state funding — the largest in New College history.

FILE - A student makes her way past the sign at New College of Florida, Jan. 20, 2023, in Sarasota, Fla. The New College of Florida trustees now dominated by conservatives appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis voted Wednesday, April 26, 2023, to deny tenure to five professors, overriding concerns by faculty and students that the decision poses a threat to academic freedom.

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However, critics point to Corcoran's shortfalls.

Student housing remains a mess with some students still living in hotels.

Trust and transparency with faculty depend on who you ask at the school.

Also, the overall culture on campus still draws the ire of some students, including Sara Engels, who believes the school's conservative shift under Corcoran remains tense and an attack on personal freedom.

"There's a lot of division on campus, and that's detrimental to the learning experience," Engels said.

In the end, Corcoran's six-figure bonus prompted no debate by the board and was overwhelmingly approved 12-1.

"Do I think he's had some successes, yes I do," Reid said. "Do it think he brought in money from the state that was needed, yes I do. That's what he was brought in to do."

Bonuses for college presidents aren't unusual, but like every part of Corcoran's presidential compensation package at New College, $200,000 is among the highest seen for college presidents in Florida.

Also, he'll be up for another $200,000 bonus next year.

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