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Nebraska’s Ben Sasse Plans to Resign From Senate for University of Florida Post


WASHINGTON – Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, plans to leave the Senate at the end of the year to become president of the University of Florida, after a committee sought the president for the state’s top university. announced Thursday that he was the only post finalist.

Mr. Sasse, who voted with six other Republican senators to convict President Donald J. Trump of impeachment After the January 6, 2021, uprising on the Capitol, and harshly criticized his party for supporting Mr. Trump, was re-elected to his second term in 2020 and will not be re-elected. votes until 2026.

But his academic background is clearly an attraction for the team looking to replace Kent Fuchs, the incumbent chancellor of the University of Florida, who is returning to teaching as the campus is in turmoil. academic freedom disputes.

“This is true for the University of Florida, true for Florida, and true for the Sasse family,” said Rahul Patel, Chairman of the Presidential Search Committee. “Ben brings intellectual curiosity, belief in the power and potential of American universities, and an unparalleled track record of leadership in higher education, government, and the region. private.”

Mr Sasse’s offer is the start of a lengthy formal process that may not be concluded until November or December, but the senator made it clear he would take the job if it was offered.

In a statement provided by the university and posted on Twitter, he said that he had previously been pursued by other institutions, but asked not to be named a finalist.

“This time is different because the University of Florida is very different,” he said in the statement. “I think Florida is the most exciting university in America right now.”

If Mr. Sasse leaves as scheduled, it will mark the latest exit from Congress by a member of the small and waning group of Republicans who have publicly parted ways with Mr. Trump. Many of them announced their resignation or were defeated in the party primaries they were targeted as disloyal.

In Mr. Sasse’s case, the departure is unlikely to affect the balance of power in Congress given Nebraska’s staunch Republican leanings. His seat will be filled through the appointment of Governor Pete Ricketts, a Republican, ahead of a special election on a future date in which a GOP candidate will be all but will surely prevail.

Mr. Sasse, who easily won an open seat in 2014, holds a doctorate from Yale and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard. He was previously the dean of Midland University, a small Lutheran school in Nebraska.


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In the Senate, Mr Sasse has made it clear that he does not see government as the solution to all problems and that he is not committed to living in politics. More than some of his colleagues, he vented his frustrations about the partisan war that had come to dominate and paralyze the Senate; During the confirmation hearing last spring for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, he lament “the stupidity we see around here” of “everyone brooding” for the camera.

Those views seem to be at least a reason for him to be interested in moving on. In Thursday’s statement, Mr. Sasse said that workforce disruption was the biggest problem facing the country today and suggested that political leaders were unfit to tackle it.

“Partisanship in Washington will not solve these workforce challenges – new institutions and the entrepreneurial community will have to lead the way,” he said.

Mr. Sasse’s harsh criticism of Mr. Trump, whom he fought for a long time in front of his constituents just weeks before the 2020 election, and his vote to convict Mr. Trump of inciting an uprising angered him from the right. But while he has been involved in some bipartisan efforts in the Senate, the senator has maintained a solid conservative voting record.

Mr. Sasse is expected to visit the campus in Gainesville on Monday and answer questions from students and faculty. The university’s board of trustees will review the responses and interview Mr Sasse on November 1 before making a final recommendation on filling out the post. Unless there are some unforeseen difficulties, Mr. Sasse is expected to step down from his Senate seat before the end of the year.

The state-run university has been stirred by a controversy over whether faculty members can act as expert witnesses in cases against the state over voting rights and political issues. Another issue raises questions about academic intervention at the highest levels of state government. Mr. Sasse’s views on the matter will be closely watched as he navigates the remaining interview process.

The members of the search committee said more than 700 people were initially considered prospects for a senior position, but the list was eventually narrowed to about a dozen before Mr Sasse was unanimously nominated. nominate.

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