PROF. GIORDANO: Ben Sasse is the right man for the University of Florida

Not only does Senator Sasse meet and exceed these qualifications, he is astutely aware of the global competition in higher education and how the system is 'failing our students on a massive scale.'

Nicholas Giordano is a professor of Political Science, the host of The P.A.S. Report Podcast, and a fellow at Campus Reform’s Higher Education Fellowship. With 2 decades of teaching experience and over a decade of experience in the emergency management/homeland security arena, Professor Giordano is regularly called on to speak about issues related to government, politics, and international relations.


Senator Ben Sasse, recently announced as the sole finalist in the University of Florida’s (UF) presidential search, will be meeting with the Board of Trustees on Nov. 1. Approving Sasse is in the best interest of UF in light of his extensive experience and achievements.

Senator Sasse brings with him a distinguished career with both private and public sector experience, including academia. 

As Rahul Patel, chair of the Presidential Search Committee, said, “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.”

Senator Sasse understands the role of a university president, as he served as President of Midland University in Nebraska for five years prior to winning his senate seat. 

[RELATED: Students protest potential appointment of conservative president]

When he took over as President of Midland, enrollment was at all-time lows, the university was operating with unsustainable financial losses, and bankruptcy seemed inevitable.

To resolve these issues, he made reforms and developed innovative programs, including a program that would cover the additional cost of tuition for students, meeting certain criteria, who did not graduate within four years. He also created partnerships with businesses, providing students with more hands-on, real-world experience.

By the end of his tenure, Midland University saw the largest increase in freshman enrollment in its 130-year history, which has continued to this day. 

While Midland University may be a much smaller institution than the University of Florida, it provides a glimpse into his leadership capabilities.

What has come to be a controversy for UF, then, should not be a controversy at all. 

The University of Florida ranks fifth among all public universities in the United States. As a top research institution, the central questions surrounding any finalist are whether they are qualified for the position, possess the leadership capabilities necessary to lead the institution, and whether the appointment will advance the institution’s academic mission. 

On all of these criteria, Sasse succeeds. Yet many continue to object to Sasse’s appointment for irrelevant reasons. 

Not only does Senator Sasse meet and exceed these qualifications, he is astutely aware of the global competition in higher education and how the system is “failing our students on a massive scale.” As President of one of the largest institutions of the country, Senator Sasse would be an asset to the University of Florida.

More importantly, at a time when American universities are declining for the fifth year in a row according to the World University Rankings, and China, our biggest competitor, continues to gain ground, Senator Sasse may be the outside-the-box thinker that is desperately needed.

[RELATED: WATCH: Conservative senator becomes university president]

Rather than be concerned about the dismal state of our education system, however, 200-300 students and faculty greeted him with protests, chanting “Hey hey, ho ho. Ben Sasse has got to go,” as Senator Sasse met with the University of Florida community. 

The protestors argue that Sasse should not be president simply because of his political convictions, such as his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, regardless of his qualifications.  

Over the last 20 years, we have witnessed many scenes like this, where a fringe minority seeks to target conservatives with the intent of silencing any dissent and expelling them from college campuses.

To them, the structural defects in the education system are irrelevant. Their primary motivation is emotion rather than sound reason and logic. This behavior is indicative of the institutional decay throughout our education system.

The criticism of Senator Sasse is a microcosm of the debate raging throughout our society.

There are those who want to impose an ideological litmus test on all aspects of life. Those that fail this litmus test must be shunned and canceled. It is not about academics or the institution, it is about politics. But as president, Senator Sasse’s obligation would be to the university, not a political party or ideology. 

He should assume the helm of the University of Florida, in spite of the confused cries of leftist students and faculty.


Editorials and op-eds reflect the opinion of the authors and not necessarily that of Campus Reform or the Leadership Institute.