UF’s New Conservative President Ben Sasse Asks Who Should our True Masters Be.

Matthew C. Woodruff

Sasse at UFPhoto byPublic Use

As UF’s new president takes the reins today of Florida’s flagship university, many are wondering what his tenure will be like, not only for students and faculty in general, but especially those of the Black and LGBTQ communities.

It is a poorly kept secret that Florida’s Governor had a big say in the choice of UF’s newest president, even changing state law to keep the selection process hidden from the public. And as DeSantis moves to end or severely curtail the teaching of African-American history and LGBTQ issues, even going as far as banning ‘un-approved’ books on the subjects and blocking an AP course in African-American Studies, some wonder if known homophobe Ben Sasse will be the tool to turn UF into a Conservative haven, even as DeSantis is trying to do with Florida’s New College.

In an opening email to all Students, Faculty and Staff at UF, Ben had a few things to say.

He wrote, “at UF, let us not duck the hardest questions about who we’re serving, and how we know if we’re being effective enough…. let us wrestle with the high callings of both what we aim to conserve, and also what kind of transformative leadership we owe our students and state.” He also wondered how we better steward our taxpayer resources.

He continued, “some of these growth pains will be complicated, but in the long run, asking direct questions — about what’s working and what could work better…is not just necessary, but satisfying.”

Sasse asks, “how will we champion pluralism, curiosity, viewpoint diversity, open debate, and intellectual rigor for our students and faculty, such that our graduates will be prepared to live and work with people of many points of view?”

He states, “to do big things, we’ll have to upgrade our performance in a number of dimensions.”

Sasse was once president of Midland University, a private Lutheran liberal arts school in Nebraska with an enrollment of about 1,600 students, where faculty accused him of mistreatment. He gathered the school’s longest tenured faculty and announced that many of them would be offered an early-retirement buyout or asked to restructure their contracts.

An anonymous professor who worked at Midland during Sasse’s presidency said faculty members over the age of 55 were pressured by the administration to retire early. There were rumors that Sasse forced remaining faculty to sign letters of allegiance.

Sasse concludes his opening letter to UF with this: “The recent successes here are exhilarating, and I am enthusiastic about working alongside you in the months and years to come as we transform lives by pursuing truth, beauty, and excellence, by discovering world-changing breakthroughs, and by passing on to our students a life-long love of learning.”

Some worry whose ‘truth’ that will be.

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Matthew is an independent journalist, an internationally award-winning author best known for Dark Humor/Lite Horror/Supernatural short stories, as well as an ordained minister who served as a domestic missionary. He is a lover of the unusual, travel, cats and the spark that makes people tick. Matthew is based in Florida, USA.

Gainesville, FL

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