- The University of Florida Faculty Senate voted to approve a resolution of no confidence toward the process used in finding the university’s next president
- The group, which has no real power over the process, overwhelmingly voted in favor — 72 to 16 — to condemn the search, but acknowledged that it was conducted legally
- Faculty primarily took issue that a search was undertaken without input from professors and researchers
- The vote highlights dissatisfaction among faculty but is unlikely to influence Ben Sasse’s confirmation as UF’s 13th president next week
The University of Florida (UF) Faculty Senate on Thursday night overwhelmingly voted to adopt a resolution of no confidence regarding the search process and selection of Ben Sasse to serve as the university’s 13th president.
Following several hours of debate, Faculty Senators voted by a 72-16 margin to adopt the resolution. The final resolution acknowledged that UF conducted the presidential search in accordance with a new state law that shielded candidates from the public.
The bill, signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May, grants public records exemptions on information that identifies applicants for university administrative positions until the end of searches.
Because of the law, members of the public are unaware of any other candidates. The only information the university has offered is that the search drew a wide range of candidates before a set of 12 were interviewed. Of the interviewed candidates, nine are sitting presidents at major research universities, though no names were provided.
“The Senate must consider the well-being of all students, faculty, and staff in addition to the numerous intensive responsibilities that come with being an effective President of an R1 research institution,” the resolution reads. “The next President should come already equipped to lead an institution of this caliber rather than aiming to learn on the job. Anything less will result in a lack of faith in leadership. The process of the thirteenth Presidential search, conducted in accordance with the updated Florida State Bill 520, has undermined the trust and confidence of the University of Florida Faculty Senate in the selection of the sole finalist Dr. Ben Sasse.”
Though the resolution was overwhelmingly passed, it holds little weight on Sasse’s impending confirmation. While showing dissatisfaction among faculty and staff, the appointing of a university president ultimately comes down to the school Board of Trustees, who will meet with Sasse for a final interview and vote to confirm on Nov. 1.
Following the vote, the state Board of Governors (BoG) will give the final say on whether Sasse will assume the role or not, with all expectations assuming that the BoG will confirm his nomination.
Sasse, a Republican Senator from Nebraska, was recommended by the UF Presidential Search Committees earlier this month to become the school’s 13th President.
Upon the announcement, students at the university organized various protests against Sasse’s political views and his voting record while in Congress. According to Axios, detractors demanded that Sasse decline the job.
On Monday, the school stated that it would ban forms of protest inside campus buildings for two weeks, including during its Board of Trustees meeting next week to confirm Sasse as president.
In his statement, outgoing President Ken Fuchs pointed to a two-decade-old regulation declaring that faculty, students, or other personnel who intentionally act to impair, interfere with, or obstruct the functions of the University shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action by the University authorities.
The regulation further expounds that demonstrations are permitted to be held anywhere on UF’s campus, so long as it does not disrupt the normal operation of the school or infringe on the rights of other members of the community.
Fuchs additionally said that the regulation has not been enforced in recent years, as instances of protests remained relatively respectful and maintained order.
Why can’t universities choose their own leaders? Why do politicians have to get involved?
The UF Faculty Senate isn’t “politicians,” but rather politically active professors, instructors and staff at UF who don’t like the UF presidential search committee’s choice.