University of Wisconsin System Interim President Tommy Thompson today submitted a letter to the Board of Regents, resigning from his position effective March 18.
Thompson began duties on an interim basis 18 months ago. He noted the search for a permanent president is nearing completion, as Regents soon will identify a replacement candidate.
“I was honored to be asked by the Board of Regents to serve as System president, particularly through what could have been its darkest time,” he said in the letter. “While challenging on many fronts, we worked together to continue to provide the quality of education our students deserve and parents expect. We not only performed but prevailed in our fight against COVID’s deleterious impact on our universities and our communities—and in doing so we made our campuses some of the safest places in Wisconsin.”
Thompson said he was proud of the way UW campuses led the fight against COVID-19.
He listed a string of accomplishments that took place during his tenure. Thompson noted every campus in the UW System is financially stable. System enrollments are outperforming its peers and were projected to decline only slightly more than 1 percent entering the 2021-22 academic year.
“When I agreed to lead our System,” Thompson said, “I did so knowing two things: that I was needed, and that it would be temporary.”
“Tommy Thompson has been a tremendous leader for the UW System, advocating for change and innovation at every turn during his tenure as interim president,” said UW Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt. “He was the right person at the right time. His leadership guided our COVID-19 efforts, giving our Universities the tools and support they needed to attack the virus first through testing and then through vaccinations.
“I have appreciated his support and friendship and will miss his boundless enthusiasm and passion for both UW System and Wisconsin. His successor will have big shoes to fill but I am confident the search will produce a leader capable of guiding a strong University System that is vital to the forward momentum of our state.”