As Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continues his endless assault on education in the state, including higher education, a growing number of Florida faculty are looking to get out of the state, according to the stunning results of a recent survey of faculty in Florida and three other states (Georgia, North Carolina and Texas).
In the survey of more than 4,250 faculty across the four states, nearly half of the 642 respondents in Florida — 46% — said they planned to seek employment in a different state within the next year, and 28% said they had already interviewed for a new position in another state. The results for Florida were much higher than the average for the four states.
“The brain drain that we’ve been concerned about, and the trends that we’ve been wondering about, based on what we’ve seen here, are certainly happening,” said Andrew Gothard, president of United Faculty of Florida, the statewide faculty union.
The survey was administered by faculty groups in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas, including local chapters of the American Association of University Professors. Faculty in those places had been hearing their colleagues talk anecdotally about wanting to leave their states after lawmakers passed legislation that restricted tenure, gutted diversity programs and targeted other long-standing practices in higher education.
And where do these faculty plan to go? The top destinations included California, New York, Massachusetts — and North Carolina, by faculty in the other three states.
Other eye-popping results from the survey:
- More than 95% described the political climate around higher education as “poor” or “very poor.”
- Almost 85% said they would not encourage a graduate student or faculty member in another state to come to Florida.
- 36% said they planned to leave academia.
The respondents listed various reasons for wanting to leave in addition to the overall political climate in their states. Seventy-one percent cited academic freedom concerns. Sixty-eight percent mentioned their pay. And 58% identified tenure, the targeting of diversity initiatives and/or LGBTQ+ issues.
About half of faculty across the four states shared concerns over the low number of applicants for teaching positions at their schools, and about 45% shared concerns over the applicants’ qualifications. About 40% said a significant number of applicants had refused offers at their schools.
Although the Wall Street Journal is doing its best to fluff up the image of Florida’s public universities, I think they are going to be in for a rude awakening over the next few years thanks to DeSantis’ anti-education crusade. No professor with any shred of competency and self-respect is going to take a faculty position in a state that is working to eliminate faculty tenure, police what you say in your classrooms (and even outside the classroom), attack any efforts to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, and on and on and on. There are plenty of other states eager to fully support academics to do their best work; Florida ain’t one of those states.