Florida Board of Governors finalize U.S. Senator Sasse as University of Florida president

Nov. 9, 2022, 2 p.m. ·

Ben Sasse answers questions during a meeting with the University of Florida Board of Trustees
Ben Sasse was selected as the sole finalist for the University of Florida's presidency in October. The Florida Board of Governors confirmed him on Nov. 9, 2022. (Photo courtesy University of Florida)

The Florida Board of Governors confirmed Sen. Ben Sasse as the University of Florida’s next president in a 16-1 vote on Wednesday.

Sasse, the U.S. Senator from Nebraska, answered a number of questions about past political positions and his vision for the campus at Wednesday's meeting. The Republican joked that, contrary to popular belief, the most questions he got during the process were not about his politics.

"I would suspect it is not well known by the broader reading public that, by far, the most common question I got from faculty during this process is my perspective on deferred maintenance of buildings in Gainesville," he said, as a number of board members chuckled.

As he did during his interview with University of Florida's Board of Trustees, Sasse vowed to step away from partisan politics during his time as UF's president.

Wednesday's approval, which was the final step in the search process, marked the end of a two-month-long process for Sasse. His announcement as the sole finalist drew pushback from students and faculty. They criticized his political positions on LGBTQ issues, his academic experience and the search process.

Sasse wrote on Twitter that he expects to resign his Senate seat in January before starting in Gainesville, Florida in February. His resignation will leave a vacancy, which Nebraska’s governor is required to fill. Outgoing Gov. Pete Ricketts said he’ll let the next governor choose the Senate replacement. Governor-elect Jim Pillen, who won Tuesday night's race, said at his watch party that he would worry about the vacancy when he starts in January.

“When the time comes, and I'm an elected governor, that's when we'll start to focus on if that's reality,” Pillen said.