In the past several years, many higher education institutions find themselves under attack by groups of radicals determined to push the limits of the First Amendment. On October 19, 2017, the University of Florida faced this threat when white supremacist Richard Spencer held an event on campus. As a result of high levels of preparation, coordination and luck, the day passed without incident.Nicole Yucht, assistant vice president of UF communications, and Deputy Chief Darren Baxley of the UF Police Department will talk about the communication efforts before, during and after the event and will share lessons learned



UF’s Free Speech Site


This episode is sponsored by PRSA's Counselors to Higher Education

Episode Host

Andrea Boyle Tippett

Director of External Relations, University of Delaware


Nicole Yucht

Nicole Yucht started her tenure at the University of Florida in 2014 where she serves as the assistant vice president of UF Communications. With more than 27 years of communications experience, she leads a team of talented professionals that have the distinct honor of being responsible for UF’s brand. Together they oversee the institution’s marketing and identity standards, media and public relations, social media, web and campus outreach efforts. Every day they have the opportunity to present UF to the world through inspired storytelling and illuminating visuals on unexpected channels.

Early in the morning, Nicole can most likely be found at the gym lifting weights with her husband and in the evening she is usually hanging out with her backyard chickens. She has four kids in college and is thankful for the Florida Pre-Paid College program.


Deputy Chief Darren J. Baxley

Deputy Chief Darren Baxley began his career with the university of Florida Police Department in September of 1992 after graduating from the Lively Criminal Justice Training Academy. Prior to being promoted to Deputy Chief in 2011, Baxley commanded both the Patrol and Investigations Divisions. He also served on the University of Florida’s Behavioral Consultation Committee for threat assessment. Deputy Chief Baxley has extensive experience planning and managing large scale special events. In addition, he has previously served as the Department’s Polygraph Examiner, Internal Affairs Investigator, and Background Investigator. He has extensive investigations experience and has worked numerous complex criminal cases on both the state and national level.  Deputy Chief Baxley has also served in numerous other positions within the department to include: patrol officer, bike officer, field training officer, Investigator, Lieutenant, Captain, instructor, public information officer, and community services officer. Deputy Chief Baxley also serves on multiple University of Florida committees, is a negotiator for the Department during labor contracts with the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), and serves on the state of Florida Missing and Endangered Children Advisory Board.

Deputy Chief Baxley has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy’s 229th Session. He also graduated from the Gavin De Becker Advanced Threat Assessment Academy. He has attended numerous specialized law enforcement training courses and is an adjunct instructor at the Santa Fe Institute of Public Safety where he has taught criminal investigative procedures and firearms. He is also a certified Polygraph Examiner. He has also completed the Harvard Kennedy School of Government: Crisis Leadership in Higher Education course.