The University of Florida Board of Trustees unanimously voted today to select Dr. Ben Sasse as the University of Florida’s next president.
Sasse, currently a U.S. senator for the state of Nebraska, will become the 13th president of Florida’s flagship public university, pending ratification by the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the State University System and is scheduled to consider the matter on Nov. 10.
An accomplished academic with a career spanning both the private and public sectors, Sasse served as president at Midland University in Nebraska and a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin. He is author of two books and numerous high-profile articles on issues ranging from higher education to the importance of community in a functioning democracy. Sasse holds a Ph.D. in history from Yale University and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University.
“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.”
Prior to today’s nomination, the Presidential Search Committee unanimously selected Sasse as the sole finalist after a review of more than 700 leaders within and outside of higher education. Sasse visited the UF campus in October to meet with students, faculty and staff to answer questions about his past work and outline his vision for the university.
“The Board’s nomination reflects our confidence that Dr. Ben Sasse is the right leader to sustain UF’s momentum as one of the nation’s top five public universities,” said Mori Hosseini, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Dr. Sasse stands ready to lead UF through a dynamic period in our history, and he has the right combination of experience and innovative thinking that will propel UF to the next level of leadership nationally and globally.”
“I want to thank Chair Rahul Patel as well as the Search Committee for their hard work as well as all members of the UF community who shared their feedback throughout this process.”
Patel, also a UF trustee, said Sasse “knows the power higher education has to transform lives. He is dedicated to opening up these opportunities by innovating how the University of Florida serves its students. A lifelong public servant with a commitment to the welfare of all people, Dr. Sasse is uniquely qualified to lead the University of Florida as it continues on its path to becoming even more impactful.”
Sasse is widely regarded as a thought leader on the issues facing higher education.
“Ben Sasse is a dynamic and forward-thinking leader, and an accomplished academic, university administrator and legislator,” said Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education. “Dr. Sasse is very well-equipped to take the helm and guide the University of Florida and its diverse community through these turbulent and challenging times for American higher education. I appreciate his commitment to serving the University of Florida and dedication to improving the lives of its students. I look forward to working with Dr. Sasse on the many important issues facing all of our institutions and students.”
Sasse is expected to succeed current UF President Kent Fuchs, who has served since 2015. Last January, Fuchs announced his intention to return to the faculty. A 15-member search committee was formed in March and included faculty and student representatives along with alumni, trustees and other university leaders. The committee engaged in more than a dozen listening session with the UF community and solicited feedback from students, faculty and staff.
“Dr. Sasse is clearly a gifted leader with a natural talent for connecting with others,” Fuchs said. “I’m confident he will be highly effective in the many roles required of a university president, particularly in communicating on behalf of UF and in bringing resources to the university. I look forward to serving as a faculty member while he is president.”
Sasse is expected to take office in early 2023.
Additional quotes from select university leaders:
“This was an extremely thorough and exhaustive search featuring input from a broad coalition, and Dr. Sasse's qualifications shone through,” said Duane Mitchell, professor of neurosurgery and member of the Presidential Search Committee. “He has an extraordinarily deep understanding of higher education and a strong vision for transforming how we prepare the next generation for the evolving workforce. Dr. Sasse also exhibited a strong commitment to equity in education and an inspiring vision of providing a high-quality education for all people.”
“In our interviews, Dr. Sasse made it clear that he understands the importance of a diverse and inclusive university, and as president, he would represent the interests and values of the faculty, the staff and the students of the University of Florida,” said David Bloom, chair and professor of molecular genetics and microbiology and a member of the Presidential Search Committee.