The University of Florida has picked a new leader for the Hamilton Center, a civics center established by the Legislature in 2022 and infused with $30 million in new funds to support teaching and research about the ideas that inform Western culture.
William Inboden, executive director and chairperson of the Clements Center at the University of Texas-Austin, whose research interests include “American presidency, the Cold War, grand strategy, history and statecraft,” according a news release, was picked for the job.
Inboden is the author of four books on foreign policy. The most recent was “The Peacemaker: Ronald Reagan, the Cold War, and the World on the Brink.” He was a contributing editor at Foreign Policy. He has written about how both President Joe Biden and the current GOP should look to Reagan as an example in foreign policy matters. The New York Times reported in March that Gov. Ron DeSantis had met with Inboden to discuss foreign policy.
In a news release, UF president Ben Sasse thanked the founding director of the center, John Stinneford, who he said would return to faculty and serve as a senior fellow at the center.
“The Hamilton Center is an important part of UF’s interdisciplinary commitment to rigorous scholarship, to excellent teaching, and to intellectual diversity,” Sasse said in the release. “The Hamilton Center is uniquely positioned with Dr. Inboden at the helm.”
The Hamilton Center was founded in 2022 with a $3 million state allocation when an outside entity with ties to conservative think tanks lobbied for the addition to the flagship school.
Since then, the school has hired nine tenure-track faculty and 10 lecturers, visiting faculty and postdoctoral fellows. It’s also developed a public lecture series, a fellowship program that includes seminars in England with Oxford University faculty, and six courses — including one about Dante Alighieri’s “Purgatorio” and another titled Happiness and Wellbeing.
This year, the Hamilton Center was outlined to be a civic institute, along with centers at Florida State University and Florida International University. That decision was part of a sweeping higher education bill that also expanded the hiring and firing powers of university boards of trustees and regulated content that can be taught in general education courses.
The bill, SB 266, states that the center will “educate university students in core texts and great debates of Western civilization and the Great Books” and will be responsible for developing curriculum and courses on civil discourse. The center’s goal is eventually to become a college that enrolls students. The university will be required to provide updates to the Legislature and governor each January starting in 2025 about progress on this front.
When he signed the bill in May, DeSantis announced he was allocating $30 million to the Hamilton Center, and noted Sasse would be able to recruit for the center. The center at FSU received $8 million, and the center at FIU received $5 million.
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The position will pay $360,000 a year. A university spokesperson declined to answer immediately how Inboden was selected for the role or if others were considered.
Inboden, who was credited with helping raise $70 million for the Clements Center, said in the release that he was overjoyed to come to UF.
“The mission of the Hamilton Center — of research and teaching on the knowledge, skills, and values that undergird a free society — could not be more vital in our present moment,” he said. “It is my goal for the Hamilton Center to become a helpful resource for all Gator students and faculty, and a valued addition to one of the most diverse and dynamic universities in the nation.”