Five Tips for Ben Sasse at Florida | Eastern North Carolina Now | The senator-turned-university-president will have his hands full in the coming months and years.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of The James G. Martin Center. The author of this post is Jenna A. Robinson.

    The University of Florida recently announced that current Senator Ben Sasse is the only finalist in its search for a new president. The board will vote at a meeting next month on whether to appoint Sasse to the position.

    Assuming he wins the job, Sasse will face significant challenges. Students have already protested his candidacy. And the University of Florida-as a large, public, research-focused institution-is significantly different than Midland University, where Sasse previously served as president.

    Given these facts, Sasse would be wise to make, at the start of his tenure, a number of commitments. Here, in no particular order, are the five most important.

  1. Commit to institutional neutrality. Sasse's former statements and positions as a Republican member of the U.S. Senate put him at odds with many students and professors at the University of Florida. In order to stay above the political fray, Sasse should make it clear that he won't make political statements on behalf of the university. He should demand that other administrators make the same commitment. Such institutional neutrality will ensure that the widest variety of opinions is heard and shared on campus.
  2. Be radically transparent. The University of Florida is the state's flagship public institution. As such, it is a leader in Florida higher education. It is also subject to Florida's sunshine laws. Sasse should make sure that information about the university's governance, finances, and academic programs is accessible to students and taxpayers alike. Doing so will give all of UF's stakeholders confidence in the university and in Sasse's leadership.
  3. Embrace academic freedom. Although the University of Florida has already adopted the Chicago Principles, it hasn't lived up to its commitment. Last year, the university prohibited six professors from serving as expert witnesses or filing amicus briefs in cases against the state. Three of those professors brought a lawsuit against the university for curtailing their free speech and won. Sasse should commit to academic freedom by clarifying or amending the policies that have been used to restrict faculty speech in the past. He should also reaffirm the university's commitment to the Chicago Principles.
  4. Don't be a rubber stamp. With his background, it's unlikely that Sasse needs this reminder, but it's still worth mentioning. Too often, university presidents and boards are content to allow other administrators and managers to make important decisions without providing any meaningful oversight. But it is the president's responsibility to scrutinize important decisions personally rather than outsourcing them to others. Sasse must be engaged, because he is ultimately responsible for all of the university's important decisions.
  5. Take your own advice. Back in 2017, Sasse wrote The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming of Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance. This book demonstrates a serious and thorough understanding of the critical issues facing young adults. And although Sasse specifically says his book "has not been about public policy," it includes important ideas for changing American education to ensure that schools help students become independent, responsible adults who are ready to contribute to, and thrive in, modern American society.

    Should Sasse make and follow through on these promises, his term of office may well be remembered as the University of Florida's glory days. Let us hope he succeeds in the difficult mission he has taken on.

    Jenna A. Robinson is the president of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.
Go Back

Leave a Guest Comment

Your Name or Alias
Your Email Address ( your email address will not be published)
Enter Your Comment ( no code or urls allowed, text only please )

Massive School Staffing Shortages? Let’s Take a Deep Breath. James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Editorials, Op-Ed & Politics October Awareness


Latest Op-Ed & Politics

Elon Musk is the chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, as well as the leader of several smaller pet projects, such as Neuralink and The Boring Company. Following his acquisition of Twitter, one of the world’s largest social media platforms, the multibillionaire gave the world a view into just how bus
As part of a new pledge to "quiet down" the company's aggressive push for progressive themes in its content, returning Disney CEO Bob Iger has revealed the entertainment giant will cut back to including only seven LGTB characters in each children's movie.
The case of defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX and now-broke multibillionaire founder Sam Bankman-Fried is among the most intriguing stories of alleged financial crime in decades, rivaling the heists executed by financier Bernie Madoff and startup darling Elizabeth Holmes.
Third-quarter finance reports dropped Tuesday, November 2nd, and with them came insight into one of North Carolina’s biggest questions for election day, will Republicans regain supermajorities in the state legislature?
Bill Maher, host of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” defended Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) against attacks he has faced from media and a Democrat politician who criticized DeSantis on the show’s most recent broadcast.
Amid a storm of controversy over recent antisemitic comments and remarks praising Hitler, Ye West has announced the release of his brand-new album My Struggle.
A number of entertainment conglomerates and media companies are announcing layoffs as the macroeconomy continues to impact several industries.
The White House geared up for the Thanksgiving holiday by sharing a list of talking points for people to reference if the happened to find themselves talking to “that uncle” during a family gathering.


Country music legend Dolly Parton has received a $100 million award from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Over the past few weeks, Ben Shapiro has created video responses to Kanye "Ye" West's anti-semitic statements, causing West to direct tweets at the conservative commentator.
A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to over 17 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for his involvement in a plot to bomb a Pittsburgh church.
Netflix is planning to try out live programming in early 2023 with a new stand-up comedy special from comedian Chris Rock.
Chad Pullman, 39, slipped into a deep depression Monday after finishing off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers. Doctors say he has been unable to leave his bedroom for two days.
Americans expected to pay more for Thanksgiving turkey this year than ever before, but residents of some states are experiencing far higher prices than their counterparts in others as inflation continues to impact the economy.
China’s oppressive COVID lockdown measures continue to fuel protests as news of President Xi Jinping‘s extreme approach shocks the world.


Back to Top