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Live Updates: Ben Sasse's inauguration as UF's new president

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, during his UF visit Oct. 10. (Serra Sowers/WUFT News)
U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, during his UF visit Oct. 10. (Serra Sowers/WUFT News)

Newly inaugurated UF president describes some goals

Thursday, 4:20 p.m.: Newly inaugurated UF President Ben Sasse shared some goals for his presidency Thursday.

Practical college majors will be even more practical, as the university refines its core curriculum classes so that students “wrestle with big questions,” he said. He also said teaching will be considered a noble profession and that there will be better support research teams at UF. 

He said the university will also promote more internships and study abroad experiences while helping more students get hired.

“So much of what is new in our mission is not new,” he said.

He said he read old inauguration addresses, which he said helped him recognize how past presidents led students. He said former UF President Kent Fuchs helped him immensely in understanding the position.

“Going forward, this place can promote even more human flourishing,” he said. “Thank you for the opportunity to be teamed with you. It is my honor and privilege. Go, Gators.”

– By Lauren Brensel

Newly inaugurated UF president predicts revolution in higher education

Thursday, 4:05 p.m.: Newly inaugurated UF President Ben Sasse described what he sees as a coming revolution in higher education.

Sasse said the digital revolution will upend higher education and that those in higher education don’t understand what’s coming. UF, on the other hand, is the only institution willing to question old practices, he said.

He noted the creation of the printing press, discussing new revolutions the university will take on.

“This shouldn’t be daunting,” Sasse said. “It should be exciting.”

He compared the achievements made at UF to other universities: “You became elite and yet decided not to become elitist,” he said.

– By Lauren Brensel

UF’s new president accepts new role, urges Gators to beat Arkansas 

Thursday, 3:50 p.m.: UF's new president was presented with the symbols of his office during a formal inauguration Thursday. He did it with some football flair.

Former UF presidents Kent Fuchs and Bernie Machen, and the chairman of the UF Board of Trustees, Mori

Hosseini, presented Sasse with the presidential regalia and chain of office to install Sasse officially as head of Florida's flagship public university. The items symbolize the authority Sasse will wield as president.

"Ben Sasse is exactly the right person for the job," Hosseini said.

When Sasse removed the academic robe he was wearing to put on the president’s regalia, he revealed a T-shirt that read, "Beat Arkansas Razorbacks." The Gators play Arkansas on Saturday. 

– By Lauren Brensel

Senior faculty member says UF will share good, hard times under new president

Thursday, 3:40 p.m.: Thomasenia Lott Adams, a professor of math education and associate dean of research and faculty development, welcomed Sasse as UF's newly inaugurated president during the ceremony.

"Like the threshold of my childhood home, UF welcomed you as one more," she said. "We are a collective working to welcome one more to a greater purpose."

She said the university will share good times and hardships with Sasse, and welcomed his leadership until "the Gator nation blankets the world."

– By Lauren Brensel and Vivienne Serret

UF board chairman tells new president, ‘Let’s change the world’ 

Thursday, 3:25 p.m.: The chairman of the UF Board of Trustees, Mori Hosseini, said the university is ready to write its next chapter as it inaugurated its new president.

Hosseini told the audience the board was looking for a leader who was not afraid to make “bold decisions.”

“We found him and we stole him from the United States Senate,” Hosseini said.

Hosseini said UF holds an enormously important role even in a culture when people are increasingly questioning the value of a college education.

"We change lives. We educate the next generation of great leaders and innovators and explorers," he said. 

He addressed Sasse directly, "Let's change the world." 

– By Vivienne Serret and Lauren Brensel

Top higher education official in Florida wishes UF’s new president well

Thursday, 3:25 p.m.: Florida's chancellor over its State University System, Ray Rodrigues, shared his hopes during the inauguration saying he hopes for success. He noted the university's ranking as the No. 1 public university, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Rodrigues noted that Sasse was a recently retired U.S. senator.

“What you have is even better,” he said. “You’re in the heart of Gator nation.”

Rodrigues said disruption is coming to the sector of higher education and he wishes Sasse luck in dealing with these challenges.

- By Lauren Brensel

Pastor at UF president’s inauguration hope leadership will unite ethnicities, cultures

Thursday, 3:15 p.m.: The pastor giving the invocation at the inauguration of Sasse, appealed Thursday for divine wisdom and understanding to guide the university's new leader.

Pastor Gerard Duncan of Prayers By Faith Family Ministries asked for God's divine presence and heavenly

endorsement and expressed the hope that Sasse's leadership would "united all ethnicities and cultures." 

– By Claire Grunewald

Inauguration ceremony gets underway for new UF president

Thursday, 3 p.m.: UF's Interim Provost Scott Angle, who is the top academic official for the university, welcomed former university presidents – including Kent Fuchs – along with faculty and Ben Sasse's family to begin the inauguration for the new ceremony on Thursday.

Angle called it "a moment for the history books."

Sasse was on stage in full academic regalia. 

– By Gabriel Velasquez Neira and Vivienne Serret

Who is Ben Sasse, UF’s new president?

Thursday, 2:15 p.m.: Who is Ben Sasse, the newly installed president of the University of Florida? 

Benjamin Eric Sasse is 51, husband to his wife, Melissa, and they have two college-age daughters and a 12-year-old son. The couple and their son, Breck, live on UF's campus in the Dasburg House, the presidential mansion, with multiple dogs and Breck’s lizard, Dart.

Sasse is a Republican former U.S. senator from Nebraska who resigned from the Senate to take the job running Florida's flagship public university. He was a prominent Republican critic of former President Donald Trump and one of only seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump for his role in the January 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Sasse holds a doctoral degree in history from Yale.

– By Claire Grunewald

No widespread protests expected during inauguration of UF’s new president

Thursday, 2 p.m.: There are no widespread protests expected Thursday during the inauguration ceremony for the new president – unlike the time when Sasse was officially hired earlier this year.

Just ahead of the inauguration ceremony, about a half-dozen uniformed police officers were visible at the entrance outside the auditorium where hundreds were expected to attend. People were starting to take their seats about an hour before the 3 p.m. program was set to begin.

In October 2022, when Sasse was being selected as UF's new president, hundreds of rowdy students drove him off a stage at UF as Sasse was speaking about higher education issues that included his opposition to forgiving student loans and support for tenure reviews for faculty. At the time, Sasse said he respected the First Amendment rights of protesters to express their concerns even if he disagreed with them.

– By Claire Grunewald

UF’s new president already making his mark on university

Thursday, 1:45 p.m.: The University of Florida's new president has already started his process of putting his designs on Florida's flagship public university. Sasse is developing a strategic plan for UF that he's described in broad outlines but hasn't released yet in detail.

Sasse has said UF needs to rethink how it delivers education to students, using new models that he says would disrupt traditional notions of place-and-time teaching. For example, he said faculty would meet virtually with students at the same time but not necessarily in the same location. He has also called for closer partnerships with private industry.

He's also made national headlines in his tenure so far: Sasse appeared on Fox News recently to discuss a memorandum he wrote after the terror attacks by Hamas on Israel. He said it was "beneath people called to educate our next generation of Americans" to offer anything other than unqualified support for Israel. In the same memo, Sasse promised to defend free speech on campus. 

– By Claire Grunewald

Here’s how to watch UF’s inauguration of its new president

Thursday, 1:25 p.m.: The inauguration of Ben Sasse as UF's new president will be streamed live online starting at 3 p.m. Thursday.

The link is here:

The ceremony, which will feature remarks by state and university dignitaries, was expected to run until about 5 p.m.

Dignitaries include Ray Rodrigues, the chancellor of the State University System, who oversees all Florida's public universities, and Mori Hosseini, chairman of the UF Board of Trustees. Those two, along with previous UF President Kent Fuchs, will present UF's ceremonial symbols marking the formal conferral of authority upon Sasse as the new president.

Sasse will then give his remarks to the audience.

– By Claire Grunewald

Sasse to be inaugurated as University of Florida’s 13th new president

Thursday, 1:15 p.m.: The formal inauguration of University of Florida’s new president, Ben Sasse, is set to begin about 3 p.m. Thursday in a ceremony on campus full of pomp and circumstance. He becomes the 13th president of Florida’s flagship public university.

Sasse, the former Republican U.S. senator from Nebraska, took over as president in February after the retirement of his predecessor, Kent Fuchs. Sasse will stand during his investiture on a platform adorned with blueberry bushes provided by the university’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

It's a beautifully bright sunny day with unseasonably cooler temperatures in the 60s.

– By Claire Grunewald


This is a breaking news story. Check back for further developments. Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news