It’s no secret that higher education is under attack in Florida. A recent AAUP report calls the “assault” by the DeSantis administration and its allies “unparalleled in US history.”  The legislative onslaught - from the “Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Assessment” and the “Stop WOKE” acts, to the elimination of DEI and restrictions on faculty and students from so-called “Countries of Concern,” to the decertifying of faculty unions and the imposition of Post-Tenure Review, to the creation of the Hamilton Center for Classical and Civic Education and the restructuring of Gen Ed and Core Courses - is remaking higher ed in the Sunshine State.  Providing a first-hand account of these (and other) efforts by the State of Florida to upend public colleges and universities, Daniel A. Smith, Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Florida, unpacks the withering three-pronged attack on academic freedom, shared governance, and free speech in Florida. His analysis sheds light on the fragile nature of higher ed in Florida, and how quickly even AAU public institutions can be overhauled when the political winds shift.

About the speaker:

Daniel A. Smith is professor and chair of political science at the University of Florida. Professor Smith’s research is motivated by understanding how political institutions affect political behavior across and within the American states, particularly regarding the disparate impact of such policies on racial and ethnic minority voters.

He has published on voting and elections issues in the discipline’s leading outlets, is past-president of the State Politics and Policy Section of the APSA and is the author or coauthor of three books--Tax Crusaders and the Politics of Direct Democracy (Routledge, 1998), Educated by Initiative (University of Michigan Press, 2004), and State and Local Politics: Institutions and Reform (Cengage, 2014). Smith served as a senior Fulbright scholar at the University of Ghana in 2000/01, a visiting scholar at the Bill Lane Center for the Study of the North American West at Stanford University (2007), and a visiting scholar at Aarhus University in Denmark (2022/23). He is the president of ElectionSmith, a political consulting firm, and his commentary has appeared in or has been heard on hundreds of news outlets around the world.

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