Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska sole finalist for University of Florida president

FILE - In this May 5, 2020, file photo Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool, File) (Andrew Harnik, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska is the sole finalist to become the president of the University of Florida, the school said Thursday, and the Republican senator has indicated that he will take the job. That means he could resign in coming weeks.

The school said in a statement that its presidential search committee had unanimously recommended Sasse as the sole finalist, a decision that will have to be voted on by the school’s board of trustees and then confirmed by the board of governors. The school said he will visit the campus on Oct. 10 to meet with students, faculty and other members of the university community.

“This is right for the University of Florida, right for the state of Florida and right for the Sasse family,” said Rahul Patel, chair of the Presidential Search Committee. “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.

“He has worked tirelessly for decades to empower people to accomplish their goals, placing education at the forefront of his lifelong service to this great nation. Having taught at the University of Texas, and served as a college president, Ben’s experiences are also deep and broad — from healthcare and technology to history and philosophy. His vision, humility, integrity, incredible personable nature and deep concern for humanity are all traits that will serve the UF community exceptionally well. This is the right moment for such a gifted public servant to lead the Gator nation into the future.”

READ THE ANNOUNCEMENT: Search committee unanimously recommends United States Senator Dr. Ben Sasse as sole finalist for University of Florida’s 13th president

The university said the recruitment process included outreach to more than 700 leaders within and outside of higher education

In a statement released by the school, Sasse, who earned a Ph.D. from Yale University and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University, said he is “thrilled about the opportunity to work alongside one of the nation’s most outstanding faculties.” He also called UF “the most interesting university in America right now.”

Sasse is a second-term senator who has been a sometime-critic of former President Donald Trump. He was one of seven Republican senators to vote for the former president’s impeachment after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.

Current UF President Kent Fuchs announced in January that he would be stepping down and transitioning to a professor. Fuchs, who became the university’s 12th president in 2015, said he planned to stay in his position through the completion in fall 2022 of UF’s capital campaign and until the appointment of the next president.

According to the annual rankings released in September by U.S. News & World Report, UF was ranked one of the top five public universities in the nation for the second year in a row. UF tied with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for fifth best public universities in the 2022-23 rankings.