UF Faculty Senate voted to adopt a resolution of no confidence on the selection process of sole UF presidential finalist Ben Sasse, by a significant majority vote of 72-16.
The vote represents a little over half of the entire Senate, which currently has 164 members. The Reitz Union Senate Chamber erupted in applause when Senate Faculty Chair Amanda Phalin, a supporter of Sasse’s candidacy, adjourned the meeting.
Phalin had no comment as to how the vote would affect Sasse’s candidacy going forward, she said, or if it would come up on Tuesday — when the Board of Trustees is set to interview the senator and vote on whether to confirm him.
Phalin didn’t specify whether she’d vote yes or no.
“I didn’t have a vote today, I facilitated the process,” Phalin said minutes after the final voters were tallied. “However the Faculty Senate votes is what the Faculty Senate is thinking.”
The Faculty Senate spent more than two hours debating whether to vote in the first place and amending the final language of the resolution before it reached the chamber floor.
“The process of the thirteenth Presidential search, conducted in accordance with the updated Florida State Bill 520, has undermined the trust and confidence in the University of Florida Faculty Senate in the selection of the sole finalist Dr. Ben Sasse,” read the end of the resolution’s preamble.
The vote was held during an emergency meeting Thursday from 3 p.m. to just past 5 p.m. Faculty senators discussed amendments to the resolution before voting. One passed to include language expressing no confidence in the fact that faculty members and presidential search committee members Lisa Lundy, David Bloom and Duane Mitchell were unable to confer with faculty during the process.
The final, amended resolution included language acknowledging UF conducted the search in accordance with SB 520, that the Faculty Senate were informed of multiple, well-qualified candidates who were unwilling to be named publicly, and that the presidential selection process was conducted in accordance with SB520.
It also said the UF faculty were kept in the dark about the final candidates and their qualifications and that the presidential search committee included three faculty members, who “did not represent the University Faculty body in the final selection outcome.”
Senators particularly took issue with the lack of transparency during the nomination process, questioning why there weren’t more nominees. While taking questions from attendees, Lundy said the committee originally wanted to present three nominees. However, faced with requests from candidates to be the only nominee if they were publicly announced, the committee opted to only select Sasse.
The committee’s vote on Sasse was unanimous, Lundy said. Other candidates didn’t receive above half of members’ votes.
But Sen. Breann Garbas, clinical assistant professor, wasn’t convinced that was a reason to keep the selection as secretive as it was. She presented the resolution as something not necessarily condemning Sasse, but as a critique of the entire process.
“How is it possible that it took an emergency hearing for us to get as much information as we did today?” she said, addressing Lundy.
Some expressed interest in Sasse attending the meeting to answer faculty questions at the Oct. 20 meeting. However, the Senate voted 35-30 against requesting him to speak prior to the meeting. Though he wasn’t necessarily barred from addressing the senators, Sasse didn’t attend.
The Faculty Senate’s vote of no confidence comes just over a week after the Student Senate’s Oct. 18 resolution condemning the presidential search process and Student Body President Lauren Lemasters for unanimously recommending Sasse as finalist and a general lack of transparency.
Cynthia Roldan, UF director of strategic communications, had no comment on the Faculty Senate vote.
Both Lemasters and Faculty Senate President Amanda Phalin hold seats on the Board of Trustees, which will vote to approve Sasse as the 13th UF President Nov. 1 at the UF Board of Trustees meeting at Emerson Alumni Hall.
The board will also interview Sasse on Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. in Emerson Hall. The meeting will be open to public comment, and live streamed for those who can’t attend in person.
This article has been updated to reflect that the Faculty Senate expressed no confidence in the fact that members of the presidential search committee were unable to confer with faculty. The Alligator originally reported otherwise.
Christian Casale is a history senior and the university desk editor for The Alligator. In his spare time, he loves writing his bio for the website and watching movies alone in the dark.
Siena Duncan is a sophomore journalism major and the graduate school beat reporter for the Alligator. When she's not out reporting, she's typically bothering her friends about podcasts or listening to Metric on repeat.