New College of Florida removes Dean of Enrollment Management over discrimination complaints

Deal Diva takes a look at student loan relief programs for new college graduates (File photo)
Deal Diva takes a look at student loan relief programs for new college graduates (File photo)
Published: Aug. 22, 2019 at 12:22 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - After conducting a review following complaints of discrimination, New College of Florida has removed their Dean of Enrollment Management.

Three people came forward to say that New College was discriminating against admission applicants who disclosed a disability or mental illness as part of the application process.

The Florida Board of Governors Inspector General’s Office conducted a review and college officials say the review found the now former Dean of Enrollment Management, Dr. Joy Hamm, had instructed admission staff to “red flag” applicants who disclosed mental health related issues in the personal essay part of their application.

New College President Donal O’Shea said, “I am committed to combating discrimination and unfairness in all forms, including anything that may create a barrier to admission for qualified students with any type of disability, including a mental health issue.”

However, it’s unclear how many, if any, “red flagged” applications led to an applicant being denied entry to the college.

According to the report, when an application was “red flagged,” it then went before the Admissions Review Committee. The report indicates that some applications should not have been placed before the committee but were because of the “red flagging” and that some applicants who were “red flagged” were then denied entry. However, it’s unclear if any of the applicants denied by the committee were discriminated against.

The college says it is commissioning an independent review of applicants from 2018 and 2019 who self-disclosed disabilities or mental health issues and "will take any necessary appropriate actions."

The college will also work with consultants and advocacy groups to review their “systems, processes and application procedures” and conduct a survey among faculty, staff, students and alumni to make additional changes based on their feedback.

Sonia Wu, an alumna who has served 30 years with the college, has been made Acting Dean of Enrollment Management until the college can appoint an independent Interim Dean. The college says it’s working with a firm to find an Interim Dean and a search for a permanent replacement will begin in January.

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