Ben Sasse Ready to Take Over as the Next President of the University of Florida

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., looks ready to bow out of the U.S. Senate to become the next president of the University of Florida (UF).

First elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014 after serving as the president of Midland University, Sasse was reelected in 2020 and voted to convict former President Donald Trump in the February 2021 impeachment vote.

“The University of Florida Presidential Search Committee has unanimously recommended United States Senator Dr. Ben Sasse as the sole finalist for consideration by its Board of Trustees who will select the 13th president of the University of Florida.

“Dr. Sasse has had a distinguished academic career, earning a PhD from Yale University and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University. Dr. Sasse spent five years as the president of Midland University, where he is widely credited with transforming the institution. Prior to that, Dr. Sasse had a varied and impressive career in academia and the private sector. Dr. Sasse’s passion for teaching started at Yale University and continued as a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to winning the Egleston and Theron Rockwell Field best dissertation prizes, he is also the author of two New York Times best-selling books,” UF noted on Thursday.

“This is right for the University of Florida, right for the state of Florida and right for the Sasse family,” said Rahul Patel, the 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.

“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,” Patel continued. “The recruitment process was exhaustive and 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. Sasse was the unanimous choice of the UF Search Committee.

“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.”

“The single biggest challenge our nation faces is the radical disruption of work,” he said. “Technology is changing everything about where, when, why, what and how Americans work — and so it’s changing our homes, neighborhoods and communities too. Lifelong work in one sector will never again be the norm for most Americans, and therefore lifelong learning must necessarily become the norm for most Americans. Higher education is going to need to change and grow — and rethink its forms — again and again,” Sasse added.

The UF Board of Trustees will now vote on the Presidential Search Committee’s recommendation of Sasse. The Board of Trustees can then name Sasse to the post to be confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors. Sasse is scheduled to be in Gainesville on Monday to meet with the UF community.

Mori Hosseini, the chair of the Board of Trustees, is certainly in Sasse’s corner.

“The University of Florida is one of the nation’s top five public universities for the second year in a row, but we have a lot more to build,” said Hosseini. “Our economy is rapidly evolving and UF graduates will lead the nation. We need a transformational leader to guide our strategic planning to prioritize among the spectacular opportunities before us in this time of growth and change.”

“I am grateful to the Search Committee, thankful for the engagement of the UF community that helped inform this search and thrilled with the unanimous recommendation for Dr. Ben Sasse as our next president. I am excited to take this recommendation to our Board of Trustees for its consideration and for Ben’s upcoming visit to campus where our community will have the opportunity to meet and share their vision of the future with him,” Hosseini added.

Sasse served as the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation under then President George W. Bush.

Kevin Derby
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