Saturday, January 07, 2023

Christopher Rufo appointed Trustee to Florida's New College by Gov. DeSantis


AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Christopher Rufo is a true culture warrior. A Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and writer for the excellent City Journal, Rufo has been one of the leaders of the movement challenging gender ideology and Critical Race Theory. He is, to be blunt, a hero of mine.

And as part of an all-star cast, Governor Ron DeSantis has appointed Rufo as a new member of the Board of Trustees at the New College of Florida. It’s a bold and significant move for a variety of reasons. For one, it will drive the Left completely nuts. But more importantly, his appointment along with figures from Hillsdale College and Claremont-McKenna will help restore a major public institution into a proper Liberal Arts institution.

Perhaps, just perhaps, there will be another sane academic institution. We can hope, at least.

Rufo is one of six new board members appointed by Governor DeSantis today. It is an excellent group of leaders.

Now you may not have heard of the New College, but it is a big deal. A top 5 public Liberal Arts College, it is the honors college of the State of Florida. I learned about its existence when a graduate school colleague of mine got a job there. I had never heard of it before then, but wound up impressed with her luck at getting a job there. Public colleges and universities don’t tend to focus on the Liberal Arts, and it is in the Liberal Arts where woke has been most powerful.

The six new members of the Board are:

Christopher Rufo

Rufo is a Senior Fellow for the Manhattan Institute. He is also a writer and filmmaker. As a filmmaker, Rufo has directed four documentaries for PBS, Netflix, and international television, including America Lost, which tells the story of three “forgotten American cities.” In recent years, Rufo has led the fight against critical race theory in American institutions. Rufo’s research and activism inspired a presidential order and legislation in fifteen states, where he has worked closely with conservative governors and lawmakers to craft successful public policy. Rufo has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. Rufo earned his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s degree from Harvard University.

Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.

Spalding is the Kirby Professor in Constitutional Government at Hillsdale College and the Dean of the Van Andel Graduate School of Government at Hillsdale College’s Washington, D.C., campus. As Vice President for Washington Operations, he also oversees the Allan P. Kirby Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship and the academic and educational programs of Hillsdale in the nation’s capital. Spalding earned his bachelor’s degree from Claremont- McKenna College and earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from Claremont Graduate School.

Charles R. Kesler, A.B., A.M., and Ph.D.

Kesler is the is the Dengler-Dykema Distinguished Professor of Government at Claremont-McKenna College and Editor of the Claremont Review of Books. Kesler is the author of many books, including most recently The Crisis of the Two Constitutions. Kesler earned his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree in government from Harvard University.

Mark Bauerlein, Ph.D.

Bauerlein has taught at Emory University since 1989, with a two-and-a-half-year break in 2003–‘05 to serve as the Director, Office of Research and Analysis, at the National Endowment for the Arts. Apart from his scholarly work, Bauerlein publishes in popular periodicals such as The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Post, TLS, and Chronicle of Higher Education. Bauerlein earned his doctorate in English from UCLA.

Debra Jenks

Jenks is a Partner and Attorney at Jenks & Harvey, LLP. She is an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association and currently serves on the Fourth District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission. Jenks earned her bachelor’s degree from New College of Florida and earned her juris doctor from Lewis and Clark Law School.

Jason “Eddie” Speir

Speir is the Co-Founder, Chairman, and Superintendent of the Inspiration Academy. He was previously the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of 3t Systems and Mortgage Cadence. Speir earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado.

These appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Those are some impressive names. Rufo, Kessler and Spalding are familiar names for people whose interests include the intersection between culture and academia, and all 6 look to be superb choices. Kessler, as Editor of the Claremont Review of Books, is an influential leader of conservative academics.

There are 13 members of the Board, of which 6 are chosen by the Governor. It’s hard to see how he could have made a better set of choices.

The governor’s Chief of Staff, James Uthmeier says they hope to make New College “a Hillsdale of the South.

DeSantis is on a warpath when it comes to woke madness in Florida. Earlier this week he demanded that every school in the state university system report how much they spend on DEI initiatives. That should be quite revealing.

DeSantis, so far, has been an ideal culture warrior. He combines total competence at the basic functions of governance with a willingness to confront the Left on important cultural matters.

He gets the political room to be a culture warrior by proving to Florida citizens that he is good at his job. He establishes trust first, and uses that trust to do good.

This is the formula. Begin with the basics, and work your way out from there.

Too often people on our side go straight for the controversies–and with good motives–without first establishing their government bona fides. Once mired in the fights, accomplishing the basics becomes exponentially more difficult. DeSantis’ strategy of competence first is refreshing and effective.

I’ve made it no secret that I am a huge fan of the governor, and he keeps exceeding my expectations.

He will make an excellent president. I, for one, will be working to get him there.