Nebraska GOP Senator Ben Sasse tapped as new UF President

by | Oct 7, 2022

  • The University of Florida Presidential Search Committee on Thursday made public its recommendation of Republican Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse to become the school’s 13th President
  • Sasse has a history of academia, earning a doctorate at Yale University before acting as President of a small private midwestern college 
  • Sasse will visit the university later this month to meet with faculty, staff, and students 
  • The recommendation drew criticism from former President Donald Trump, who Sasse has publicly disparaged in the past, and voted to convict during his impeachment trial

On Thursday night, the University of Florida (UF) Presidential Search Committee publicized its recommendation of U.S. Senator Ben Sasse as the sole finalist to become the school’s 13th President.

Sasse will travel to Florida later this month to meet with students, faculty, and other members of the University community. Following the visit, the Search Committee will accept feedback before presenting Sasse to the Florida Board of Governors.

Sasse, who was re-elected to the senate in 2020, will resign from his position in Congress to assume the Presidential role. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts will appoint an interim Senator in Sasse’s place until an election can be held.

“The University of Florida is the most interesting university in America right now,” said Sasse. “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.”

Kent Fuchs, the outgoing President of UF, announced early this year that he will step down as president and become a professor at the College of Engineering.

Sasse has a brief history in academia, earning a Ph.D. from Yale University and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University. Sasse also spent five years as the president of Midland University, a small private school in Fremont, Nebraska.

“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. “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.”

The recommendation has drawn the ire of some UF students in online spheres like Twitter and Reddit, largely due to political qualms, but Sasse’s biggest detractor comes in the shape of former President Donald Trump.

“The University of Florida will soon regret their decision to hire him as their President … We have enough weak and ineffective RINOs in our midst,” Trump said on social media Thursday night.

Sasse was notably one of seven Republicans to vote to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection during the Senate impeachment trial following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Sasse has also been vocally critical of the former President over the past year, stating that there is no evidence to object to the results of the 2020 election. The public statements have drawn consistent criticism from the Trump team across social media.

UF states that of the considered candidates, nine were sitting presidents at major research universities, and seven were from AAU universities.

1 Comment

  1. Ron Ogden

    Ben Sasse, what qualifications? Oh, president of a tiny private college, a few years as a Senator notable only for his anti-Trump rhetoric (rebuked by his own constituents), oh, George W. Bush-era Health and Human Services senior official. One of the big jobs of a public university president is to strengthen relationships within the university’s home state. How is he best to do this?

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