College News

UW System President Ray Cross to retire

UW System President Ray Cross announced plans to retire after more than five years in the position.

UW System President Ray Cross announced plans to retire after more than five years in the position.

Image By: Jon Yoon

UW System President Ray Cross announced Friday plans to retire from the position he’s held since 2014. 

Cross, 71, will continue to serve as president until the Board of Regents finds a replacement following a national search. 

Cross called his more than five years as president “the most rewarding work” of his life and said “the UW System has never been more important.” 

His appointment began in February 2014, under former Gov. Scott Walker. Cross oversaw the UW System’s “most significant re-organization” in over 45 years with the System restructuring, where two-year campuses were linked with four-year institutions. He also directed hiring policy changes to end “pass the harasser” and oversaw the ongoing tuition freeze for in-state students and collaborations such as the Dairy Innovation Hub

Challenges in recent years include 2019’s declining enrollment across institutions and when his reprimand of UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow’s decision to bring a former adult film star to campus drew national and international attention — a decision that also landed the UW System on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s list of “10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech 2019.” 

Board of Regents President Andrew Petersen said Cross “stabilized the UW System at a time of legislative skepticism and financial challenges” and “has positioned the System extremely well for the future.”

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank congratulated Cross on his forthcoming retirement in a statement

“Ray [Cross] has been a standard bearer for the Wisconsin Idea, believing that the education and research we conduct at the university should reach beyond the boundaries of the campuses and benefit the people of the state and beyond,” she said.

Prior to becoming UW System president, Cross served as chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension from 2011 to 2014. He also led several other institutions — including Morrisville State College of the State University of New York and Northwest Technical College — before coming to Wisconsin, giving him a total of 42 years of experience in higher education. 

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