Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska lone finalist for University of Florida presidency

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska has emerged as the lone candidate to become the next president at the University of Florida, school officials said Thursday.

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Sasse, 50, a Republican and Nebraska’s junior senator, has served as president of Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska, The Washington Post reported.

Sasse is in his second term in the Senate. If approved by the University of Florida’s Board of Trustees, Sasse would become the 13th president in the school’s history, according to The Gainesville Sun.

He also is expected to resign his Senate seat if he accepts the position, CNN and KFAB Radio in Omaha, Nebraska, reported.

“UF is the most important institution in the nation’s most economically dynamic state,” Sasse said in a statement. “Washington partnership isn’t going to solve these workforce challenges — new institutions and entrepreneurial communities are going to have to spearhead this work.

“If UF wants to go big, I’m excited about the wide range of opportunities.”

If Sasse accepts the position, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, also a Republican, will appoint a successor under state law, according to the Post.

“This is right for the University of Florida, right for the state of Florida and right for the Sasse family,” Rahul Patel, chair of the university’s presidential search committee, said in a statement. “Ben brings intellectual curiosity, a belief in the power and potential of American universities, and an unmatched track record of leadership spanning higher education, government and the private sector.”

A bill signed into law in March, SB 520, allowed the university to conduct much of its presidential search outside of the requirements of Florida’s Sunshine laws, the Sun reported. Under the legislation, the university was allowed to keep the names of candidates secret and only announce names when any finalists were selected.

Sasse was one of seven Republican senators to vote for the impeachment of former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, according to The Associated Press.