Ron DeSantis’ 'hostile takeover' could cost a Florida college $29 million in donations: report

Ron DeSantis’ 'hostile takeover' could cost a Florida college $29 million in donations: report

In a southern state that has had more than its share of Republican governors — from Jeb Bush to Charlie Crist (who is now a Democrat) to Rick Scott — the New College of Florida, located in Sarasota about 85 miles north of Fort Myers on Florida's west coast, has had a reputation for being liberal and diverse. But Florida's latest GOP governor, Ron DeSantis, has made a concerted effort to give the New College a far-right MAGA makeover — which many Florida Democrats regard as a "hostile takeover" of the liberal arts college.

According to USA Today, some major New College donors are now pulling their donations in response to DeSantis' efforts.

DeSantis appointed six right-wing allies to the New College's board in an effort to move it in a more MAGA direction. One of the former board members he replaced was Charlie Lenger, and she told USA Today that 13 donors have decided to cancel their contributions. The loss of donations, according to USA Today reporter Zac Anderson, could cost the New College $29 million.

READ MORE:Ron DeSantis’ 'right-wing power grab' with a Florida college shows his 'illiberal' tendencies: libertarian

Anderson, in an article published on March 13, explains, "After DeSantis' takeover, donors started contacting Lenger to get more information about what was happening. A number shared their intentions to remove New College from their estate plans and stop other contributions…. Lenger began keeping a list of canceled contributions…. They all oppose what's happening at the college under DeSantis' appointees, and don't want their money to support it, Lenger said."

One donor, according to Lenger, canceled a planned donation of $18.8 million.

Lenger told USA Today, "I can't begin to know all the donors, but 11 donors have told me they either have or quickly will change their estate plans."

Anderson reports that DeSantis has "steered an additional $15 million in state money to New College for the current budget year" but adds that Lenger's "tally indicates that whatever boost New College gets in state funding could be partially offset by a big loss in private donations."

READ MORE: DeSantis-appointed board member vows to take on 'pledges of fealty' to wokeness

"The $29 million in canceled contributions would be big money for a small school with just 700 students and a relatively small donor base," Anderson observes. "New College's Foundation had $43.5 million in net assets in 2019 and received $2.4 million in total revenue that year, the most recent year that IRS records are available…. Donors are upset that New College is being reoriented by DeSantis, with the school serving as an experiment in conservative higher education reform."

READ MORE: MSNBC producer maps out DeSantis' record of appointing conservatives with 'radical fringe beliefs'

Read USA Today’s full report at this link.

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