UCC Supports New College

February 1, 2023

To: The Churches of the Florida Conference

Perhaps you’ve been reading about the recent Florida government interruption of life at New College in Sarasota, Florida. A lead article in the Orlando Sentinel on February 1, 2023 begins this way:

“Former Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran is slated to become the next president of embattled New College of Florida, while Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing to cut diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and curtail faculty tenure on state university campuses.
All of these planned changes apparently are intended to further DeSantis’ campaign against what he describes as a “farleft” agenda in higher education.”

Current and former students, faculty, and education experts from around the country are decrying this incursion into higher education by one seeking political points to engage a base of voters who have bought into the so called ‘anti-woke’ movement. It’s time for the church to raise our voice, too. It is a different voice that needs a platform you can provide.

Here’s something you maybe didn’t know: “In 1960 New College was founded as a private liberal arts college in cooperation with the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries (Congregational); in 1962, at the campus dedication ceremony on November 18, earth from Harvard was mixed with soil from New College to symbolize the shared Congregationalist origins and high academic ideals of the two institutions.”

The history of our United Church of Christ is one of valuing education and encouraging freedom of thought as each generation shapes a sound future for itself and those who will come after them. The Florida government attack on New College is an attack on foundational values that have shaped our United Church of Christ culture for generations. I encourage you to reach out to your legislators and to the governor’s office. Make it known that we value the high academic ideals upon which New College was founded and that we object to this hijacking of higher education at New College and on campuses across the state of Florida.


Rev. John Vertigan

Conference Minister, United Church of Christ in Florida

One thought on “UCC Supports New College”

  1. Dear Reverend John Vertigan,
    Thank you for your initiative on behalf
    of New College and the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ.
    I am sad, angry and outraged at how this is taking place in our state and country in 2023. I have a question for myself and for all of us who care about the future of New College. What else is being done for New College in addition to contacting Governor De Santis and the Florida legislators? I do not think my call to these folks are going to make any difference at all. I have been a resident in Florida all my 81 years. I graduated from FSU, USF, and Candler School of Theology and am now a retired UCC clergyperson. I am appalled at the actions and the direction that Governor DeSantis is taking our public education system. His actions at New College are dangerous. They are dangerous for our democracy and dangerous for our children/ youth who need to learn and be allowed to think and act creatively for the common good.
    What else can I do? What else can be done?

    Praying for wisdom and guidance in Christ,

    Rev. Emily Bridges Bell


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