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Republican Sen. Ben Sasse the 13th president of the University of Florida. Photo: Pool

Board of Trustees approved Sen. Ben Sasse as the University of Florida’s next president

Dr. Ben Sasse, a U.S. Republican Senator for the state of Nebraska was unanimously voted as the 13th president of the University of Florida

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Dr. Ben Sasse, a U.S. Republican Senator for the state of Nebraska was unanimously voted as the 13th president of the University of Florida (UF). The Florida Board of Governors meets November 10 for final approval.

A recent law in Florida allows for presidential contenders’ identities to be hidden until final stages, allowing many to be blindsided once presidential candidates are revealed, like in the case of Stasse, when he became the sole finalist for the University’s presidency.

“I am grateful for the Board of Trustees’ unanimous vote and for their endorsement of our shared vision to make the University of Florida a world-changing institution and a pioneer in higher education,” said Sasse. “Education properly understood isn’t exclusively or even primarily about transmitting information. Education is about learning how to humbly and meaningfully engage with new ideas. We want Gators to engage ideas. I want our students to be challenged and to rejoice in the challenge. We want Gators to go out and serve Florida and the world. Let’s go out and build something great together.”

However, other institutions in Florida have had a hard time getting leaders despite candidates being qualified. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports “the State University System of Florida had extensive experience working at U.S. universities, and the system chose another politician”, the republican senator Ray Rodrigues, to be its next chancellor. What is even more surprising is that “the top three candidates selected by Florida International University’s presidential-search committee bow out, and the lone finalist for that job is the interim president — who hadn’t even applied.”

But more institutions in Florida are seeking new presidents like Florida Atlantic and Florida Gulf Coast Universities, “raising concerns about whether the state’s political climate is deterring candidates.”

“It would be naïve to not consider that high-profile state political climates are a major factor in possible candidates’ shying away from applying,” Felecia Commodore, an associate professor of educational foundations and leadership at Old Dominion University, told The Chronicle. “Florida has had a lot of press lately regarding what some would call a heavy-handed approach to governance from the state executive branch in relation to its public institutions.”

Students protested Tuesday outside while the Board of Trustees interviewed Sasse—UF did not allow demonstrators indoor protesters to interfere with Sasse’s speech last month on campus. 

“Stasse is clearly not welcome on campus, especially after making negative comments about demographic groups on campus,” said Paul Wassel, president of the university’s Graduate Student Council to Higher ED Dive.

 

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