Sasse, Benjamin E.
President and Professor of History, Midland University
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health & Human Services
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Ben Sasse was announced as the 15th president of Midland University in October 2009. At the age of 37, he became one of the youngest chief executives in American higher education when he took over leadership of the 128-year-old institution in the spring of 2010. He was officially installed as President on December 10, 2010.
During his first full year at the helm, Midland was re-founded as a university, achieved record enrollment growth, added five new varsity athletic teams, and launched a four-year graduation guarantee reflecting a promise to dramatically improve degree completion rates, among other accomplishments.
Today, Midland is migrating to a college structure under its new university umbrella, is pursuing academic reforms designed to strengthen the university’s liberal arts core and align with workforce and industry needs, and has received accreditation to offer a new Masters in Business Administration program.
Before coming to Midland, Sasse served in several senior roles in both government and corporate America.
Nominated by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the Senate, he served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services leading policy, strategic planning and research functions at the federal government’s largest agency from 2007 to 2009. His work focused on the Food and Drug Administration, Medicare, Medicaid, and the unsustainability of national entitlement spending. His research on the politics and economics of American healthcare looked at migrating from “paying for more” to “paying for better” in ways that stimulate entrepreneurial innovation from doctors, hospitals and adjacent industries.
Sasse began his career with the Boston Consulting Group and has advised a wide variety of organizations at moments of strategic crisis – working with airlines, utilities, manufacturers, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the government of Iraq. He sits on various boards and has advised private equity clients on health sector strategy.
He holds visiting scholar status in economics at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and a fellowship at the Center for Politics and Governance at the University of Texas. He has held academic appointments at Yale University and at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. He previously served as a chief of staff in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Office of Legal Policy, the internal think-tank of the U.S. Department of Justice.
A Nebraska native, Sasse was educated at Harvard, Oxford and St. John’s before receiving his Ph.D. from Yale, where his dissertation on domestic politics during the Cold War won the Theron Rockwell Field (best dissertation) and the George Washington Egleston (history) Prizes. He writes regularly on health business issues for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily.