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May 23, 2014 11:09 AM EDT

Midland University President Resigns To Focus On Senate Campaign

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Midland University President Ben Sasse announced Thursday that he will be resigning to focus on his Senate campaign, school officials announced.

The resignation will be effective Dec. 31, 2014.

Sasse, who recently won the Republican primary in Nebraska to run for U.S. Senate, arrived to the University in 2009 when it was nearly bankrupt and struggling to fulfill its mission at the time. School officials said, Midland University as experienced consecutive years of record growth, enhanced academic rigor, and introduced pioneering new models of student support and guidance under Sasse's direction.

"While my next chapter in life will not be determined until November, I am hopeful that this early announcement will enable the university to conduct a thorough search and find the ideal person to serve as the next president of this proud institution," Sasse said in a statement. "I know there are quality candidates who can help lead Midland's continued growth, and I am pleased I will have the opportunity to assist in the search process."

Under his leadership, the Nebraskan school became the fastest growing college in the region by moving to simultaneously expand extracurricular offerings and increase academic expectations.  Since 2009 Midland has added 11 varsity athletic programs, and 12 levels of junior varsity competition. With 27 varsity programs in total, Midland is now home to Nebraska's largest athletic department.

"Ben Sasse's leadership has transformed Midland from a school focused on its survival to an institution that is breaking enrollment records, creating more opportunities for young people, and equipping the next generation to learn and live with purpose," Midland Board of Directors Chairman Gary Perkins said in a statement. "When others were saying to cut and do less just to survive, Ben decided Midland needed to build more opportunities for students, create more meaningful experiences, and better support and nurture young minds so that our community could thrive."

The university will conduct a national search and nominations or expressions of interest may be submitted through the university website beginning Friday, May 23. In the near future , Midland expects to select a firm with appropriate expertise to help lead the process.

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