A faculty no-confidence vote and student protests did not succeed in blocking Ben Sasse’s path to becoming the next president of the University of Florida. UF trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the Republican senator from Nebraska as the new leader of the sprawling flagship.
Sasse, who is expected to take the reins in early 2023, now awaits final approval from the state university system’s Board of Governors.
“Education properly understood isn’t exclusively or even primarily about transmitting information,” Sasse said in a statement released by the university Tuesday afternoon. “Education is about learning how to humbly and meaningfully engage with new ideas. We want Gators to engage ideas.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, Sasse said he would take a pledge of “political celibacy” as UF’s president, WGFL reported.
Sasse was chosen to lead the university through a dynamic period, added Mori Hosseini, the Board of Trustees chair. “He has the right combination of experience and innovative thinking that will propel UF to the next level of leadership nationally and globally,” Hosseini said.
The Faculty Senate of the University of Florida last week voted “no confidence” in Sasse, saying the selection process that led to him being chosen as the sole finalist had undermined trust. “The next President should come already equipped to lead an institution of this caliber rather than aiming to learn on the job,” the Faculty Senate’s no-confidence resolution says. “Anything less will result in a lack of faith in leadership.”
Sasse, who voted to impeach and convict former President Donald Trump but has otherwise voted along party lines, was the president of Midland University in Nebraska from 2010-2014. He called UF “the most important institution in the nation’s most economically dynamic state.”
A campus publication, The Independent Florida Alligator, posted photos of students protesting against Sasse outside the meeting. The signs displayed by students criticized Sasse’s political views, including his opposition to the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage in 2014. As other media outlets have noted, the “sanctity of marriage” is listed as one of Sasse’s top issues on the “Nebraska values” section of his website.