Two-term Nebraska Republican U-S Senator Ben Sasse is the sole finalist to become president of the University of Florida and has indicated he will take the job. That means he will likely resign in the coming weeks.
Florida said in a statement released Thursday that its presidential search committee had unanimously recommended Sasse as the sole finalist. The UF trustees must now approve and the board of governors confirm the choice.
Sasse says in the same statement that he was “thrilled about the opportunity to work alongside one of the nation’s most outstanding faculties.” He will visit the main UF campus in Jacksonville on Monday to meet with students, faculty and other members of the university community.
Before being elected to the Senate in 2014, Sasse was president of Midland University, a Christian school of about 1,600 students in eastern Nebraska. The University of Florida has over 52,000.
In a separate tweet, Sasse said other schools had contacted him but “this time is different because the University of Florida is very different,” adding that “If UF wants to go big, I’m excited about the wide range of opportunities.”
His wife, Melissa, suffered a brain aneurysm in 2007 and the senator has, at times, alluded to her health as a reason he might not seek re-election to a third term.
If Sasse resigns before Jan 3, Governor Pete Ricketts will appoint someone to fill the seat for the next two years.
If it’s after Jan. 3, Ricketts’ successor would appoint the new senator. Either way, the final 2 years of Sasse’s term would be on the 2024 ballot, when Senator Deb Fischer is up for reelection
Sasse has had a complicated relationship with the Nebraska Republicans leadership over his outspoken criticism of former President Donald Trump. He was censured for his criticism during the 2016 campaign and reprimanded last year after he voted to impeach Trump over the Jan 6 Capitol attack.
After voting to convict Trump, Sasse said he had “promised to speak out when a president – even of my own party – exceeds his or her powers,” adding that he couldn’t go back on his word and that “Congress cannot lower our standards on such a grave matter, simply because it is politically convenient.”