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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

UF Faculty Senate will consider vote of confidence on Ben Sasse, presidential search process

Faculty Senate President says she’s unsure how successful vote will impact Sasse’s candidacy

Sen. Ben Sasse visits UF's campus Monday, Oct. 10, 2022, as the sole presidential finalist.
Sen. Ben Sasse visits UF's campus Monday, Oct. 10, 2022, as the sole presidential finalist.

The UF Faculty Senate will consider a vote of no confidence on both Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, as the sole presidential finalist and the presidential search process that selected him, as decided by the deliberative body Thursday.

The Faculty Senate will hold an emergency meeting Oct. 27 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to debate and possibly adopt a resolution of no confidence in the selection process of the 13th president of the university. A vote of confidence would signal that a majority of the Faculty Senate feels that Sasse’s selection was inadequate.  

Faculty Senate President Amanda Phalin told The Alligator she isn’t sure what a successful vote of no confidence would mean for the senator’s candidacy. Although she said she has gotten feedback from faculty senators about Sasse’s candidacy, she hadn’t heard about senators’ intentions prior to Thursday’s meeting.

“I support faculty having their voices heard,” Phalin said. “And I will do everything I can to facilitate that to the best of my ability.”

Phalin is caught between her emphatic support for Sasse’s candidacy and her advocacy role for the faculty’s democratic process. As a Board of Trustees member, Phalin will take part in the final vote on whether Sasse will become the 13th UF president. As the Senate faculty president, she may potentially oversee a harsh rejection of the entire search process and its outcome by the UF faculty’s representative body.

“The process of the 13th Presidential search, conducted in accordance with the updated Florida State Bill 520, has undermined the trust and confidence of the University of Florida Faculty Senate in the selection of the sole finalist Dr. Ben Sasse,” read the preamble of the emergency meeting’s resolution that will be voted on.

This consideration comes after the UF Student Senate passed a unanimous resolution Tuesday condemning Student Body President Lauren Lemasters and the rest of the presidential search committee for Sasse’s nomination.

Following the Faculty Senate’s vote to hold an emergency meeting next week, faculty senators requested Sasse attend the meeting for members to question and interact with him directly; others immediately expressed opposition to the proposition.

While the vote didn’t pass, with a 35-30 vote, Sasse can still attend the public meeting, but wouldn’t necessarily have the right to speak, Joseph Little, the chamber’s parliamentarian said.

Some faculty members also raised concerns that he was given questions before he addressed UF faculty in the Oct. 10 forum and said it served as an illusion of transparency.

Rachel Carrico, a UF assistant professor of dance studies, said she and other faculty members are trying to increase involvement in the search process.

“This [motion] was inspired by our students and by our student governments,” she said. “I’m wondering about the equity in advancing this opportunity for ourselves to have direct interaction with the candidate without also considering the students to have that same opportunity.”

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Valeria Kleiman, a UF chemistry professor, said she didn’t find it necessary for Sasse to visit the Faculty Senate.

“I actually think it will not really help us, because whatever it is that he can say to us in an answer at the end, a lot of us are basing our view of him on what he has done before coming here and what he has said before coming here,” she said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Christian at ccasale@alligator.org and Mickenzie at mhannon@alligator.org. Follow them on Twitter @vanityhack and @MickenzieHannon.

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Christian Casale

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.


Mickenzie Hannon

Mickenzie is the local elections reporter and previously covered city and county commission for The Alligator’s Metro Desk. She's a fourth-year journalism major and is specializing in data journalism. When Mickenzie isn’t writing, she enjoys watching horror movies, reading, playing with her pets and attending concerts.


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