Jay Rothman, chairman and chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Foley & Lardner LLP, was appointed Friday as the next University of Wisconsin System president.
The UW System board of regents voted Friday to offer Rothman the position. He begins June 1 and will earn $550,000 annually, according to a UW System announcement.
He will be the system's eighth president, succeeding current interim president, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.
Thompson has led the system on an interim basis since 2020, following the retirement of Ray Cross. Thompson announced that he will step down in March 2021.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead the UW System and approach this role with profound respect for the unparalleled role public higher education plays in the lives of our students, alumni, and communities,” Rothman said. “I intend to lead by listening first, so that the experience I have gained over my lifetime in Wisconsin can help us build a great UW System together. This is not an original sentiment, but I want to say it because I believe it: the UW System is our state’s crown jewel, and a vibrant UW System builds a strong Wisconsin.”
Rothman, who is 62, has led Foley as chairman and CEO since 2011. He joined the firm in 1986, became a partner in 1994 and has been a member of the firm’s management committee since 2002. He received a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
On Friday, Foley & Lardner announced Daljit S. Doogal as the firm’s next chairman and CEO. Doogal, who is a partner and business lawyer in Foley’s Detroit office, begins in his new role this spring. Rothman is in the last year of his term with Foley’s management committee and is ineligible to serve another term per the firm’s partnership agreement.
Foley has roughly 1,100 lawyers and operates 25 offices across the United States, Mexico, Europe and Asia.
“Daljit is an exceptional lawyer and he will be an outstanding leader for Foley,” said Rothman. “Daljit’s election as chairman and CEO is a significant moment in our firm’s long history. Foley and our clients will undoubtedly benefit from his leadership.”
Last week, Rothman and UW-Eau Claire chancellor Jim Schmidt were announced as the two finalists for UW System president. Rothman was recommended to the full board of regents by a special regent committee following interviews this week with the committee, chancellors, shared governance representatives and the system’s executive leadership.
With a $6 billion budget, the UW System encompasses 13 universities and 26 campuses, with roughly 165,000 students.
UWM Mark Mone applauded Rothman’s appointment Friday.
"UW System is in good hands with today’s announcement,” Mone said. “I know Jay Rothman, and I have great admiration for his intellect and inclusive leadership style. His strong connections throughout southeastern Wisconsin and beyond will benefit all the UW campuses.”
“The regents appreciate Jay’s willingness to serve the UW System and the people of Wisconsin,” said regent president Edmund Manydeeds III. “I am confident that in partnership with our chancellors, faculty, and staff he will strengthen the UW System for the students and people of Wisconsin we serve.”
Mike Falbo, a former regent president, will serve as interim president from March 18 until Rothman takes office June 1.