Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson will serve as the University of Wisconsin System interim president, the Board of Regents announced Friday, June 19.

According to a news release:

"Thompson is a well-known champion of Wisconsin’s public universities, and he has called for a renewal of the Wisconsin Idea, the principle that the UW System serves all parts of the state. He is the state’s only four-term governor and his bipartisan policy proposals have had a lasting impact on the state. As a former U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services, Thompson’s health policy experience will be critical as universities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. He chairs the UW System Business Council and helped lead a public-private campaign to fund UW-Madison’s BioStar Initiative with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation."

Current UW System President Ray Cross will remain as a consultant for 90 days after leaving office June 30 to assist with the transition.

Thompson requested to be paid the minimum $489,334 salary. Under the terms of the contract, he will serve until a new president takes office. The Board of Regents indicated it would not begin the search for at least a year.

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“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 in a news release. “No other institution in the state can do more to improve lives, communities, and Wisconsin’s economy.”