US Senator from Nebraska Ben Sasse is likely the next president of the University of Florida after the search committee announced on Thursday that he was unanimously recommending him as the sole finalist.
The committee touted his experience in higher education – a historian by training, he was president of Midland University in Nebraska, taught at the University of Texas and has discussed several times his vision for the reform of American higher education. But his political experience will no doubt come in handy in this role as head of the UF as well.
University presidents are key players in state politics – the university’s board of trustees typically includes former politicians and campaign donors, for example – and it’s not uncommon to see university presidents walk the halls of Tallahassee during the state’s all-important budgeting season.
Sasse would take on the role at a particularly political time for Florida’s flagship university, a time in which the school’s independence from Governor Ron DeSantis has been repeatedly questioned. Last year, professors sued University of Florida after school banned them from testifying as experts in cases against the state. A faculty report then alleged that the fear of antagonizing Florida officials is ubiquitous within the university, to the point that race-related references were removed from course materials and researchers felt pressure to destroy COVID-19 data. A subsequent academic investigation uncovered these latest claims regarding COVID-19 research. had “no merit”.
Earlier this year, a faculty committee report revealed that the university’s hiring of state surgeon general Joseph Ladapo had been fast-tracked, violate school hiring procedures.
It is unclear whether Sasse, a Republican, has any past ties to the state of Florida or its politicians. Like DeSantis, he is an alumnus of Harvard and Yale, the latter of which the two men attended at similar times. DeSantis graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2001, while Sasse earned a Ph.D. in 2004.
If Sasse is confirmed as the university’s new president, he will leave the US Senate just two years after the start of his second six-year term. He has recently been seen to have aspirations for higher office, including rumors of a possible presidential election in 2024, according to an Associated Press article from last year.
Here is an overview of Sasse’s public comments, writings and statements on various political and political issues:
Sasse said American higher education needs a radical overhaul to meet the needs of the modern workforce and better serve students.
“American higher education is the envy of the world, and it’s also failing our students on a massive scale,” begins an essay he published in Atlantic in May. “We need to build an academic network that enhances social mobility, instead of reinforcing privilege. We need higher education to transform more lives by providing more responsibility, more experimentation, more institutional diversity, more intellectual curiosity, more adaptive learning, and more degrees and certifications.
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Unlike DeSantis, who in his speeches often likened some more academic degrees to “zombie studies” in their usefulness, Sasse writes that “the liberal arts unquestionably make this world a better place. More students should be intellectually curious about history, literature and ethics.
But Sasse says technical training and trade schools are also very important, and when it comes to learning opportunities, more is better.
It supports breaking the mold that requires a certain number of credit hours earned over a period of time to turn into a degree for all subjects. In today’s world of ever-changing technology, few people will end up sticking to one career – instead, schools need to equip students to be lifelong learners, he argues, who know what type of learning model is best for them.
Sasse said the role of government in shaping this education revolution should be minimal.
“We need the role of the state to focus primarily on funding, but not on the monopolistic administration and management of our institutions,” he told Deseret News in a long article on his views on education. Good schools will arouse students’ curiosity, he added. “Once someone has a question, once the engine is running…they’ll figure out how to learn.”
Student Loan Forgiveness
Sasse was opposed to President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel student loans, arguing Atlantic attempt that the movement “subsidize(s) the failure(s)” of the educational system rather than reform it.
“Massive forgiveness of student debt would help upper-class Americans the most, who will do just fine without a bailout,” he wrote. “It’s a regressive mistake.”
Donald Trump and partisanship
When he was first elected to the Senate, Sasse immediately caused a stir by exposing political grandstanding and bipartisan myopia in his speech on the first floor.
“The people despise us all” he said.
He has continued to go against the grain ever since, including being a frequent and outspoken critic of Donald Trump. Sasse was one of the few Republican senators who voted in the 2021 impeachment trial to convict Trump of inciting insurrection.
“If we allow tribalism to repeatedly blind us against defending our institutions, we will lose them,” he said in a lengthy statement when he voted in February 2021. He also said Trump’s “lies” about stealing the election had brought the country “dangerously close to a bloody constitutional crisis.” … This institution must respect itself enough to tell the executive that certain lines cannot be crossed.
Around the same time, after learning that local GOP committee members were preparing to censor him, he released clear video in which he tore into “rage junkies” for being out of touch with most Nebraska conservatives and embracing “one dude’s weird cult.”
He said he did not vote for Trump in 2016 Where 2020choosing instead to write in Mike Pence both times.
Trump, for his part, gave Sasse a surprise endorsement for re-election in 2020, which came after the senses. Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz convinced him not to support a challenger, according to an excerpt from Maggie Haberman’s book on the former president.
“Like an asshole, I accepted,” Trump said.
While Sasse said he supports COVID vaccines, he opposed Biden’s mandate requiring vaccines for all federal employees.
“This mandate is an end of the race around the Constitution”, he said in a 2021 statement. “The American people have never elected anyone to OSHA, and no law gives OSHA unlimited power. The Biden administration’s rule isn’t just unconstitutional nonsense — it’s also ineffective public health policy. Botched federal mandates have the net effect of making a group of Americans more hesitant about vaccines. In my opinion, these vaccines are incredibly life-saving, but the administration has done an absolutely terrible job of convincing people of this reality.