UW System selects Milwaukee attorney Jay Rothman as next president

MADISON, Wis. — The UW Board of Regents has unanimously selected a Milwaukee-based attorney as the university system’s next president.

Jay O. Rothman will take over as UW System President on June 1. He’ll be the UW System’s eighth president and make an annual salary of $550,000.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead the UW System and approach this role with profound respect for the unparalleled role public higher education plays in the lives of our students, alumni, and communities,” Rothman said. “I intend to lead by listening first, so that the experience I have gained over my lifetime in Wisconsin can help us build a great UW System together. This is not an original sentiment, but I want to say it because I believe it: the UW System is our state’s crown jewel, and a vibrant UW System builds a strong Wisconsin.”

Rothman, chairman and CEO of the Milwaukee law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, was one of two finalists for the position. He’s been chairman of the law firm since 2011 and a member of the firm’s Management Committee since February 2002. Rothman earned a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.

UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James C. Schmidt was the other finalist for the position.

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“The regents appreciate Jay’s willingness to serve the UW System and the people of Wisconsin,” said Regent President Edmund Manydeeds III, chair of the Special Regent Committee. “I am confident that in partnership with our chancellors, faculty, and staff he will strengthen the UW System for the students and people of Wisconsin we serve.”

RELATED: Tommy Thompson resigning as UW System interim president

Former Wisconsin governor and interim president Tommy Thompson announced earlier this month he plans to step down from the position on March 18. Thompson was sworn in as interim president in July 2020 and led the UW System through the majority of the pandemic.