New UW System president will recommend continuing tuition freeze in upcoming budget

MADISON, Wis. — In an interview on Thursday, new UW System president Jay O. Rothman says he is recommending a continuation of the in-state, undergraduate tuition freeze in next year’s budget proposal.

Rothman takes over after Wisconsin’s longest serving governor, Tommy Thompson, stepped down in March after serving as interim system president throughout the pandemic. Formerly serving as CEO of Milwaukee-based international law firm Foley & Lardner, Rothman comes–like Thompson–without previous academic experience.

Tuition for in-state undergraduates has been frozen for nearly a decade, and was continued last year by UW regents after the legislature returned tuition control back to the hands of the system. With the help of federal Covid relief funds, Rothman says he plans to recommend that the freeze continue for the upcoming year.

The plan is part of a four-point proposal he shared in an interview that will air in full on News 3 Now’s For the Record show on Sunday morning at 10:30am.

“We need to do a better job of serving underrepresented populations in the state and getting them into the university,” Rothman said. “It ties back into affordability, it ties back into accessibility, our issues that we’re working on, but if we’re gonna fulfill the Wisconsin Idea, we need to have more students from underrepresented groups in our university system.”

Other key priorities in his first days in office, which started June 1, include holding 100 interviews with 100 current UW students around Wisconsin, as well as pushing systemwide diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Other goals include bettering the System’s relationship with the legislature, as well as developing partnerships with businesses and business groups around the state to better prepare and match graduates with needs in various industries.

Rothman also plans to green-light a free speech survey across all campuses this fall with modifications, after the survey was delayed after controversy and the resignation of UW-Whitewater’s interim chancellor.

This coverage will be expanded. Watch for the full interview this Sunday on For the Record at 10:30am.