New College President Okker terminated by Board of Trustees

Richard Cocoran tapped to serve as interim president
President Patricia Okker
President Patricia Okker(WWSB)
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 6:23 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The New College Board of Trustees has voted to terminate the contract of President Patricia Okker.

Trustees also voted to appoint former Florida House speaker and Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran as interim president.

Corcoran will not be available until March; trustees also approved naming Okker’s chief of staff, Dr. Bradley Thiessen, to the position until Corcoran can assume the office.

The vote came after a tense meeting in which new conservative board members moved to terminate Okker’s contract. The new board members insisted they were here to change the board’s structure.

The board offered to hold off on abolishing the school’s Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, instead opting to terminate four positions within the office.

Okker made remarks prior to her removal saying the school educates and does not indoctrinate, “You can not ask me to go forward and argue that we are indoctrinating students here.” She also described the newly appointed trustees as a “hostile takeover.”

Corcoran, a lawyer from Pasco County, ran the Florida has been a DeSantis supporter. Last year, DeSantis appointed Corcoran to the Board of Governors, which oversees the state university system.

As her termination was being discussed, Okker said she was glad for her time at New College. “As sad as I am I also feel gratitude. For that and more I will be forever grateful.”

This is a developing story. ABC7 will update this as more information is received.