Are Florida laws chasing university faculty away? Some see a ‘brain drain.’

In the months before the Florida Board of Governors met in late March, more than 1,000 people wrote in, mostly to complain. Now, a dozen speakers lined up to be heard in person.

They had come to weigh in on a proposed state rule that would make it harder for university faculty to keep tenure. The board, which oversees the state’s 12 public universities, was nearing a decision. But many in the audience had other concerns.

Gov. Ron DeSantis had been talking since January about his plans to rid higher education of “woke”. He spoke of weeding out liberal professors, killing diversity programs and restricting course content. He railed against “zombie studies,” the college majors he saw as frivolous.

The speakers warned of damaging effects. Some faculty, they said, already had taken lower-paying jobs in other states, with more sure to follow. Top professors from elsewhere were staying away. The quality of a college education in Florida would quickly decline, they predicted.

“If you pass this regulation, Florida’s university system will go from the most competitive in the country to the least — and it will happen overnight,” said Andrew Gothard, head of the state’s faculty union.

It wasn’t true, said university system chancellor Ray Rodrigues, pushing back against the notion of a Florida brain drain. In the past when confronted with similar changes, he argued, people made “dire predictions” that hadn’t happened.


Orange of Specious

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