Professor Is Let Go From New College After Inviting Black Historian to Campus

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By Giselle Balido

June 7, 2023

After criticizing the ultra-conservative bent the liberal arts college has taken under Gov. Ron DeSantis and inviting a Black college professor to speak on campus, Prof. Erik Wallenberg was let go from his job. No explanation has been given.

The New College of Florida has chosen not to renew the contract of Erik Wallenberg, the school’s only U.S. history professor, even though the social sciences department had supported his return for another year.

Interim New College president Richard Corcoran has thus far refused to explain his decision. However, the reason for Wallenberg’s ouster may be evident to anyone following the conservative takeover of the Sarasota-based liberal arts school which has historically prided itself on offering creative courses, educating free thinkers, and celebrating diversity.

But under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new, handpicked Board of Trustees, the college is turning into a stronghold of far-right conservatism.

‘An Affront to Academic Freedom’

In March, Wallenberg — an outspoken critic of the direction the college was taking after its new trustees abolished its diversity, equity, and inclusion programs — called out New College trustee and conservative activist Christopher Rufo over comments Rufo made to a student that Wallenberg characterized as “demeaning and rude.” Rufo replied on Twitter by describing the contents of Wallenberg’s resume as “pure left-wing Mad Libs.” 

Then, on April 20, Wallenberg invited Black historian and outspoken DeSantis critic Marvin Dunn to his class for a lecture about Black history in the state and threats to educational freedom. The professor emeritus at Florida International University filed a lawsuit in 2022 to block DeSantis’ Stop WOKE Act, which restricts the teaching of systemic racism in public schools and has been a vocal critic of the governor’s conservative education agenda.

RELATED: DeSantis Moves to Turn New College of Florida Into a Far-Right Conservative Institution

Just one month later, Corcoran refused to renew Wallenberg’s contract, a move that PEN America, a human rights group that protects freedom of speech worldwide, is calling “an effective firing […] an affront to academic freedom.” 

Wallenberg is now in talks with professional organizations as he considers filing a grievance through the faculty union. Dunn also told the Miami New Times that his nonprofit, the Miami Center for Racial Justice, is hiring Wallenberg.


  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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