Florida Board of Governors confirms presidents of UF, FIU

by | Nov 9, 2022


  • The Florida Board of Governors confirmed the appointment of two university presidents on Wednesday 
  • Ken Jessell will serve as Florida International University’s next president after working as its interim president since January 
  • GOP Senator Ben Sasse will become the University of Florida’s 13th president following a nationwide search 
  • The Board of Governors additionally confirmed the appointment of interim presidents at Florida Atlantic University and the University of West Florida 

The Florida Board of Governors on Wednesday confirmed the appointments of Ken Jessell and Ben Sasse as university presidents of Florida International University (FIU) and the University of Florida (UF), respectively.

Serving the interim role since January, Jessell formerly worked as the university’s top financial officer and Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration. Jessell was the lone consideration for the position despite a nationwide search.

In late September, the FIU Presidential Search Committee submitted a recommendation for Dr. Kenneth A. Jessell to be appointed as president.

According to a university statement, just one candidate was recommended to the Board of Trustees after other individuals refused to continue their candidacy unless they were the committee’s lone choice.

Jessell was selected from a pool of 12 individuals that the Presidential Search Committee interviewed. Nine of the 12 were sitting, past, or interim presidents.

Sasse, a Republican Senator from Nebraska, was recommended to serve as UF’s 13th president amidst the backdrop of student and faculty outcry over the method in which the university conducted its search process.

In late October, UF Faculty Senators voted by a 72-16 margin to adopt a resolution of no confidence in the search process undertaken to select Sasse. The resolution acknowledged that UF conducted the presidential search in accordance with a new state law that shielded candidates from the public.

During his interview with UF Trustees, Sasse spoke of his vision for the school, which includes expanding UF Health to encompass more of northern Florida, improving campus infrastructure, and instilling a sense of technological literacy among students.

Sasse additionally responded to criticism regarding his political stances while in Congress, stating that he plans to be “politically celibate” during his time at the university.

“The State University System is incredibly fortunate to have such extremely talented new presidents in Dr. Jessell and Dr. Sasse,” said Board of Governors Chairman Brian Lamb. “With your visionary thinking and inspirational leadership, we know you’ll lead these universities to new heights.  We look forward to working with you as you build upon the foundation set by the dedicated presidents before you.”

During its meeting on Wednesday, the Board of Governors also confirmed the appointment of two interim presidents — Dr. Martha D. Saunders at the University of West Florida and Dr. Stacy Volnick at Florida Atlantic University.

Since 2020, nine state system university presidents have departed from their positions, including at some of Florida’s largest colleges.

The Board of Governors still awaits a recommendation for president of Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), which is to come within the next ten days after being delayed, according to the school’s Board of Trustees.

Following a nationwide search, FGCU’s final candidates are Robert G. Gregerson, President of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Tod A. Laursen, Acting President of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and Susana V. Rivera-Mills, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Ball State University.

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