In a move decried from left-wing protesters and faculty, the University of Florida Board of Governors approved the contract to hire a former Republican U.S. senator from Nebraska, Ben Sasse. Sasse was given a $1 million annual salary by the board.
His annual salary will automatically increase by four percent each year if the University of Florida meets goals outlined by the board of trustees and Sasse. He could also receive an annual performance bonus up to fifteen percent of his salary.
His tenure will begin next year on February 6, but the news of his hiring spurred protests by students and university faculty.
Protesting students chanted slogan such as, “Get Sasse out of our swamp,” and objected to his opposition to same-sex marriage. Critics also point to the fact that Sasse does not have previous experience managing a major state university. Sasse was a university president at Midland University, a small private Lutheran university in Nebraska which has about 1,600 students total. By comparison, the University of Florida enrolls over 60,000 students.
However, critics failed to acknowledge that Sasse, a conservative senator, was also a frequent critic of former President Donald Trump.
Sasse was named as the sole finalist for the university president position and the university faculty senate opposed the search. The faculty senate passed a vote of no confidence due to the lack of transparency, which was a result of a state law that shields applicants from public scrutiny.
Sasse was hired on November 1, but has yet to officially retire from the U.S. Senate. Reports point to his resignation taking place at the end of the year and it is unclear who will be appointed by the Republican governor, Pete Ricketts, to fill the rest of his term.