Ray Cross to retire as UW System president

Has led system since 2014

ray cross retire
Ray Cross plans to retire

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:38 pm

University of Wisconsin System president Ray Cross announced today he plans to retire.

Cross, 71, has overseen the UW System since 2014, following three years as chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension.

Cross plans to stay on as president until his successor is selected, following a national search.

“Serving as president of the UW System has been the most rewarding work of my life,” Cross said in a prepared statement. “I believe there is no better investment for the state of Wisconsin than the University of Wisconsin System. From cutting-edge research on cancer, water quality, and how children learn to educating Wisconsin’s future leaders, the UW System has never been more important.”

Andrew Petersen, president of the UW System Board of Regents, applauded Cross for leading the system during a time of budget cuts and a sustained tuition freeze.

“Ray has been tireless in his efforts to lead the UW System with vision and integrity. His forward-looking attitude influenced policymakers and opinion leaders to embrace and support the UW System,” Petersen said. “Ray stabilized the UW System at a time of legislative skepticism and financial challenges, and he restored transparency and credibility at the Capitol and among the public. He has guided the System through financial uncertainty and has positioned the System extremely well for the future.”

In 2018, Cross oversaw a restructuring of the UW System, in which two-year colleges were converted into branches of nearby four-year UW schools. The system overhaul was a response demographic challenges, budgetary constraints and the need for alignment of research and practice, Cross said in his announcement.

Cross’ retirement will close out his 42-year-long career in higher education.

Prior to becoming chancellor of University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin–Extension in 2011, Cross was president of Morrisville State College of the State University of New York for 13 years. He was also previously president of Northwest Technical College in Bemidji, Minnesota.

Gov. Tony Evers released a statement in response to Cross’s retirement announcement Friday.

“I want to thank Ray for his five years of leadership and service as president of our UW System,” Evers said. “Ray has been a fierce advocate for kids and the pursuit of knowledge throughout his more than four decades of service in higher education. During his time at System, Ray saw higher education not just as a means of workforce development, but as an opportunity for public service and public good in a state that prides itself on the Wisconsin Idea. The UW has been in good hands under his leadership, especially during a time when higher education in our state faced significant cuts and challenges and a difficult political environment.”

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.