Senator Ben Sasse approved as next UF president by board

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Senator Ben Sasse was unanimously chosen on Tuesday to be the next president of the University of Florida by the university’s board of trustees, despite tough questions from some students and professors about his graduate credentials and his political views.

The decision, which is subject to the approval of the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida, was made after nearly four hours of questions and answers that touched on everything from artificial intelligence to the Gator mascot to Chinese geopolitics.

Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, was named the lone runner-up for the UF post last month. If he accepts the post, he is expected to resign from the Senate in December. He would take office in early 2023, the university said.

UF trustees voiced support for Sasse’s vision to harness technological disruption to make Florida’s flagship university more nimble and relevant, promising big changes even as he reassured faculty members that he supported academic freedom and the tenure system.

“I am grateful for the Board’s unanimous vote and endorsement of our shared vision to make the University of Florida a world-changing institution and a pioneer in higher education,” Sasse said in a statement. .

On Tuesday, protesters gathered outside the meeting – they weren’t allowed in – some were wearing Sasse masks and chanting, according to the campus newspaper, the Florida Independent Alligator.

In recent months, some faculty members have complained of excessive political influence on the public university, accusing Tallahassee Republicans, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, of threatening academic freedom.

Last week, the university’s faculty senate passed a no-confidence resolution, criticizing what they said was a flawed selection process, and the United Florida Faculty’s UF chapter passed a resolution expressing deep concern about the choice of Sasse as a finalist.

University of Florida faculty ‘not confident’ in Sasse selection

On Tuesday, Sasse pledged to abandon partisan politics if chosen as college president. He told board members who interviewed him that he is a romantic when it comes to the importance of education and the mission of the university. “The quest for knowledge and truth is the endeavor of a lifetime,” he said.

Senator Ben Sasse’s bid for U-Florida president sparks protests

This is a developing story.

Paul Kane contributed to this report.


Washington

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