Nebraska Republican Ben Sasse formally resigned from the U.S. Senate over the weekend to take a job as the next president of the University of Florida.
“This is the right moment for such a gifted public servant to lead the Gator nation into the future,” said Rahul Patel, chair of the Presidential Search Committee, after naming Ben Sasse the sole finalist to become the next president of the University of Florida. File photo by Leigh Vogel/UPISee More
Sasse departs Capitol Hill two years into his second term after sealing the deal on his new job back in November when the University of Florida Board of Trustees voted unanimously to appoint him president of the school.
Newly-elected Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen will name someone to fill Sasse’s Senate seat for a two-year term before a special election in 2024 to determine the senator for the next six years.
Sasse leaves Congress amid deep divisions in the Republican Party over continued loyalty to former President Donald Trump and whether he should be nominated to lead the GOP in the 2024 election.
Since the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Sasse has become one of Trump’s most vocal critics, and he was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict the former president at his second impeachment trial in February 2021.
During his goodbye speech last week on the Senate floor, Sasse scolded his Senate colleagues whom he was often at odds with, saying the legislative body had become increasingly beholden to special interest groups, including “social media mobs, advocacy organizations, small-dollar donors and cable hosts.”
“Each of us knows we should be taking a look in the mirror and acknowledging that lives lived in a politicized echo chamber are unworthy of a place that calls itself a deliberative body, let alone the world’s greatest deliberative body,” he said.
“When we’re being honest with each other, which usually means when on one of the very rare occasions where cameras aren’t present, we all know that a big chunk of the performative yelling that happens here and in every hearing room is just about being booked for even more performative yelling at night on TV,” Sasse added.
He also acknowledged an up-and-down relationship with his constituents during eight years in Washington.
“Our wrestling together, Nebraskans and me, over the last eight years has had some marked ups and downs, as you gave me victories in all 93 counties … and then made me the most censured public official in the history of Nebraska over the next six years, but then proceeded two years ago to reelect me again,” Sasse said. “Many times it felt like a noogie and a slap and a head butt and a hug all at once.”
Sasse will become the 13th president of Florida’s flagship university, taking over for Kent Fuchs, who has led the school since 2015 and plans to continue teaching there.
Sasse will reportedly earn a salary of $1 million per year.
University administrators have praised Sasse for his “distinguished academic career” and noted that the senator earned a PhD from Yale University after a bachelor of arts from Harvard.
Before becoming a senator, Sasse led Midland University and also taught at the University of Texas.
“This is the right moment for such a gifted public servant to lead the Gator nation into the future,” Rahul Patel, chair of the Presidential Search Committee, said at the time.
“Great news for the United States Senate, and our Country itself. Liddle’ Ben Sasse, the lightweight Senator from the great State of Nebraska, will be resigning,” Trump said.
“The University of Florida will soon regret their decision to hire him as their president,” Trump wrote on his social media website Truth Social. “We have enough weak and ineffective RINOs in our midst. I look forward to working with the terrific Republican Party of Nebraska to get a REAL senator to represent the incredible people of that state.”