Finalists named in search for new UW System president

MADISON, Wis. — The search committee tasked with finding the next leader of the UW System has announced two finalists for the position.

UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James C. Schmidt and law firm CEO Jay O. Rothman are the candidates being considered for the position, according to an announcement made Friday.

“We have identified two excellent candidates, each of whom would be an outstanding leader for our university system,” UW Regents president Edmund Manydeeds III said in a statement. “We believe their qualifications and experience provide the committee a great opportunity to pick a future leader for the UW System.”

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Schmidt and Rothman will have interviews with the Special Regent Committee and other groups on Tuesday, January 18. Officials say there will be no public input sessions with the finalists due to the “extraordinary public input in the process so far.”

“Our diverse 21-member Search and Screen Committee included representatives from all universities and all campus constituencies, which helped us identify a list of viable candidates to forward to the Special Regent Committee,” Regent Vice President and Search and Screen Committee chair Karen Walsh said in a statement. “We also held numerous valuable listening sessions at all of the universities and with all constituencies – often more than one. We look forward to the Special Regent Committee completing its work.”

The Special Regent Committee will forward their recommendation to the full Board of Regents once the final interviews are completed. A final hiring decision from the full board is expected by the end of January.

Interim UW System president Tommy Thompson announced earlier this month that he would be stepping down from the role effective March 18. The former Wisconsin governor has led the UW System on an interim basis since July 1, 2020.

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More information on the background of the finalists is available on the UW System’s website.