An update from President Ben Sasse

President Ben Sasse
March 31, 2023

It’s been an eventful March, and I wanted to give our entire faculty a brief summary here of an update I’ve given real-time to dozens of audiences the last two weeks — from the Board of Trustees and members of the Faculty Senate, to the Provost Search Committee and various student groups, to state legislators in Tallahassee and many alumni who pay it forward by investing in our current and future students.

We have many new and expanded initiatives under consideration, but the Board and I regularly group the evaluation of these lines of effort under five broader aims. The big 5 are these:

  1. More and better research.
  2. More demonstrable life-change for our students.
  3. Better-than-peer-institution compensation for top faculty.
  4. Faster and nimbler partnerships.
  5. Transparency and pluralism.

There’s lots more to say about each, but toward the end of more common language together, here’s a quick elaboration on parts of our path forward:

  1. More and better research. Many of UF’s biggest brains and grittiest producers are changing the world, but we’re not yet doing enough to unlock the broader potential here, to direct resources to our biggest strengths, or to tell our story. “What does UF want to be known for?” is a question I’ve heard from key constituents handfuls of times each of the six weeks I’ve been on this job. I have committed to helping us drill down on this question, and ensure that we direct more disproportionate dollars and mindshare to going from good to great in areas that all of Gator Nation knows how to talk about in common. We want more research and more valuable applied research.
  2. More positive life-change for our students. We do great by some students and not good enough by others. Some arrive with healthy habits; many do not – we want to accelerate the growth of both. Many of us nerd out on how large language models, and AI more broadly, are going to transform the student experience (and the work world that our young alums will enter upon graduation), but no institution has yet taken sufficient steps to prepare the next generation for how disruptive this moment will be. We need to be wrestling with what curricular reforms are required – on both the qualitative and quantitative sides – to equip them to become well-rounded, life-long learning, stable souls in an unstable era. And we’ll obviously need a new model of career services to equip them for a new pace of job change.
  3. Better compensation for faculty. We want to pay great money for great work. Buildings are important. But buildings don’t make students fall in love with learning. Faculty do. Buildings don’t cure cancer, solve climate change, or harness the power of AI. Faculty do. Who is doing great research? Who is giving life-changing seminars? Who is making this community great? We need to identify our best faculty and we need to pay them more. We need to invest in our faculty and we need to steal talent from around the country to come and join us here in Gainesville.
  4. Faster and nimbler partnerships. Higher education is changing, but a lot of our competitors are asleep at the wheel. Not us. UF needs to become a hub of faster innovation. If folks have a great idea, they need to bring it to Gainesville and to Florida more broadly. If they need computing power, they need to bring it to Gainesville. If they need to partner with the best, we want them to want to call us. There’s a ton of investment and talent flowing into the state – UF needs to be more top-of-mind in this dynamic economy.
  5. Commitment to transparency and pluralism. We get paychecks because Floridians pay taxes. Our partnership with the state needs to be built on trust and respect. To do that we need to develop a culture of greater transparency and more articulable pluralism. We need to make sure the state of Florida understands the importance of our work here. We need to make sure Florida understands the student experience – our classes, our costs, our outcomes, our measures of success, and our belief in the importance of grit and resilience. We need to be steadfast in our affirmation of pluralism. We need to be committed to viewpoint diversity. We need to celebrate speech. Gators are tough enough and smart enough and compassionate enough to engage with big ideas in a big world filled with people who disagree. The embarrassing illiberal fiasco at Stanford Law School isn’t going to happen here. We’re committed to transparency and pluralism.

This is great and exciting work. I’m glad to partner with you. Stop me and say hello when you see me on campus — and feel free to send me your big ideas at

Go Gators!