Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse is retiring from Congress “to pursue another opportunity in higher education,” a former aide reported Thursday.
First elected to the Senate in 2014, Sasse previously served as president of Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska. He holds a doctorate from Yale University and was an assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services in the George W. Bush administration. Sasse won reelection by 38 points in 2020.
Ian Swanson, the Nebraska news anchor who first reported the expected retirement, worked in Sasse’s office from 2018-21.
Sasse was one of seven Republican senators who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. He struck a defiant tone following threats from the Nebraska GOP to censure him, claiming that politics “isn’t about the weird worship of one dude.”
Sasse was also one of several senators to urge an investigation of Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek, over reports that the smut giant profited off of child rape videos. Visa and Mastercard blocked site payments over the report.
The University of Florida announced Thursday that its presidential search committee would recommend Sasse as its sole finalist to be the school’s next president.
“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,” search committee chairman Rahul Patel said in a statement.
A staunch critic of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, Sasse argued in a May Atlantic op-ed that colleges should diversify their offerings.
“We need dozens of new models that allow students to move from the world of real work into the classroom and back, and forth, again and again. Some students should still immerse themselves in college, using a traditional eight-semester model. Some students will thrive if they work and learn at the same time. Some students will choose to travel and come back to school, or to learn on the road. Some students will opt for project-driven approaches that yield a marketable credential,” he wrote.
Sasse described the University of Florida as “the most interesting university in America right now” in a statement.
“I’m delighted to be in conversation with the leadership of this special community about how we might together build a vision for UF to be the nation’s most-dynamic, bold, future-oriented university,” he said.