Senator Ben Sasse Likely To Become Next President Of The University Of Florida

Republican US Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska appears poised to become the next president of the University of Florida.

According to an announcement from the University today, the Presidential Search Committee unanimously recommended Sasse as the sole finalist for consideration by its Board of Trustees who will select the 13th president of the University of Florida.

Sasse, age 50, is serving his second term in the US Senate. He was selected in a search that, under a new Florida law, keeps early stages of a public university’s presidential selection process private.

University of Florida officials attempted to deflect what will surely be criticisms of both the process and Sasse’s selection, noting both his excellent academic credentials and calling their search process “exhaustive.” According to the announcement, the search “included outreach to more than 700 leaders within and outside of higher education. Ultimately, the Search Committee focused its attention on a dozen highly qualified diverse candidates. Nine were sitting presidents at major research universities, and seven were from AAU universities.”

However, it is not likely that the public will learn the identities of those other candidates. Nor is it likely that the announcement will do much to quell the ongoing turmoil at the University of Florida, where, over the past two years, claims of political interference, charges that academic freedom has been violated, faculty lawsuits, and allegations of outside meddling have become regular occurrences.

“This is right for the University of Florida, right for the state of Florida and right for the Sasse family,” said Rahul Patel, chair of the Presidential Search Committee in the university’s announcement. “Ben brings intellectual curiosity, a belief in the power and potential of American universities, and an unmatched track record of leadership spanning higher education, government and the private sector.”

He has worked tirelessly for decades to empower people to accomplish their goals, placing education at the forefront of his lifelong service to this great nation. Having taught at the University of Texas, and served as a college president, Ben’s experiences are also deep and broad — from healthcare and technology to history and philosophy. His vision, humility, integrity, incredible personable nature and deep concern for humanity are all traits that will serve the UF community exceptionally well. This is the right moment for such a gifted public servant to lead the Gator nation into the future.”

Sasse earned his bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University, a Master of Arts in liberal studies from St. John’s College and master’s and doctoral degrees in American history from Yale University. He has served on the faculty of the University of Texas and was also an assistant secretary in the US Department of Health and Human Services. Sasse served for five years as the president of Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska.

For his part, Sasse said, “The University of Florida is the most interesting university in America right now. It’s the most important institution in the nation’s most economically dynamic state — and its board, faculty and graduates are uniquely positioned to lead this country through an era of disruption. The caliber of teaching and research at UF is unmistakable, carried out through the core principles of shared governance and academic freedom. I’m thrilled about the opportunity to work alongside one of the nation’s most outstanding faculties.”

Sasse is scheduled to visit the UF campus on Monday, October 10, 2022, to meet with students, faculty and other members of the University community. Following that visit, he is expected to return on November 1 to be interviewed by the Board of Trustees. If approved, he will replace Kent Fuchs, who announced in January that he was stepping down to take a faculty position at the university.

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