University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson announced his resignation in a letter to Regent President Edmund Manydeeds III Friday. His final day will be March 18, 2022.
Thompson’s departure is the second major resignation within the UW System that has taken place since this past fall. University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced in October that she will also be leaving the UW System at the end of the spring academic term, vacating another crucial spot.
“While I did not seek this responsibility, it has been extremely rewarding to lead and work alongside truly remarkable people at UW System Administration and our universities,” Thompson wrote. “When I agreed to lead our System, I did so knowing two things; that I was needed, and that it would be temporary.”
He explained that in his final weeks as System President, he will focus on the legislative agenda, finalizing operational budgets across schools, and visiting campuses.
“I am confident our foundation is as strong as ever. It is time to allow you and the board the ability to prepare for a successor to lead the UW System into the years ahead,” Thompson said.
Manydeeds III celebrated Thompson’s leadership, describing him as “the right man at the right time.”
“His leadership has helped carry us through a pandemic and set the standard for managing during a crisis,” Manydeeds III continued.
Chancellor Blank described Thompson as “an extraordinary advocate for students, faculty and staff over these past 18 months, as he has been for the state of Wisconsin over his many decades of public service,” in a university release.
Thompson served as the Governor of Wisconsin from 1987 to 2001, and as the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2001 to 2005, among several public offices.
“President Thomspon stepped in during a crucial moment for the UW System and our state, and he has provided strong and decisive leadership,” added Blank.
The search for Thompson’s successor has been ongoing since July 2021.
As of January, finalist interviews are being conducted by the Special Regent Committee and the announcement of the new designee will occur in February 2022 according to the UW System.
Thompson emphasized that he will “accomplish all that is needed before allowing staff the ability to prepare for the transition.”