Dr. Scott Atlas, a medical expert who backed up Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reopening policies during the pandemic, will be the commencement speaker at New College of Florida on May 19. Atlas is a senior fellow in health policy at the Hoover Institute of Stanford University and co-founded the Global Liberty Institute.

"Dr. Atlas' perspective and resume are impressive; he is a champion and fighter for free speech and a renowned national leader,” said Richard Corcoran, Interim President of New College. “We are happy to welcome him here at New College, where we place a high value on personal freedom and individual autonomy, as Dr. Atlas does.”

Atlas gained notoriety after being appointed as a special advisor to former President Donald Trump on the coronavirus but clashing with public health leaders in the administration. He advocated for herd immunity, or allowing the COVID-19 virus to spread and establish natural immunity in most of the population before a vaccine had been developed.

He went on to frequently advise DeSantis, supporting decisions to end lockdowns earlier than many states. Corcoran notably served as Florida Education Commissioner in the DeSantis administration at the time, and oversaw reopening Florida’s public schools in late 2020.

“Dr. Atlas is a noted commencement speaker and comes at such a pivotal time for New College,” Corcoran said. “But that is not only what led me to asking him to speak to our graduates. Dr. Atlas is a first-generation college student in his family, he knows the value of hard work and what a path to higher education can lead to in one’s future. He has spoken about being bold and rising up over challenges, even amongst criticism. That spoke to me as we seek to stand up for the future of New College, our students and faculty - and now our graduates. I am proud and honored that he has accepted our invitation to speak.”