Tommy Thompson appointed interim UW System president

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thomson
Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thomson recently appeared in a PSA for the Wisconsin Hospital Association encouraging patients to seek out routine care during the pandemic.

Last updated on June 22nd, 2020 at 01:26 pm

Former Republican Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson will serve as interim president of the University of Wisconsin System, the Board of Regents announced Friday. 

Regents president Andrew Peterson said he asked Thompson to take the position, according to a UW System announcement. 

“Governor Thompson is a statesman who offers the kind of leadership the UW System needs right now,” Petersen said. “I have witnessed his collaborative yet direct leadership style. He is perfectly suited to serve as Interim President.”

Thompson assumes the role on July 1. 

“The University of Wisconsin System is the state’s most valuable asset, and I will be its biggest advocate and its toughest evaluator,” Thompson said. “No other institution in the state can do more to improve lives, communities, and Wisconsin’s economy.”

Current UW System president Ray Cross, who announced in October his plans to retire, will remain as a consultant for 90 days after he leaves office June 30 to assist with the transition. Last week, the system’s lone finalist, University of Alaska System president Jim Johnsen, withdrew from consideration for the post. 

The Board of Regents said it will not begin the search for a permanent president for at least a year. 

Thompson will be paid an annual salary of $489,334, the minimum under board policy, at his request, the UW System said.

Thompson was governor for four terms, serving from 1987 to 2001, and later appointed U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services from 2001-‘05 during George W. Bush’s presidency. 

He is currently a senior fellow with the Bipartisan Policy Center and chairman and chief executive officer of Thompson Holdings. He serves on the board of directors of Centene Corporation, United Therapeutics Corporation, Physicians Realty Trust and TherapeuticsMD, Inc.

In recent weeks, Thompson has thrown his support behind Wisconsin Hospital Association’s PSA campaign to encourage patients to return to hospitals and clinics for routine care amid the pandemic.

“I have known Governor Thompson since he was in the state legislature, and he understands the importance of the UW System to the state of Wisconsin, including the key role that academic research plays in economic development,” said Regent Karen Walsh. “He is a pragmatic leader who seeks solutions. He has my confidence.”



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