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Monday, June 24, 2024
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Evers announces three Board of Regents appointees at ‘critical juncture’ for UW System

Gov. Tony Evers' announcement came just one week after a Republican-appointed regent said he would stay on the board past his term until a successor is appointed and confirmed.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced three appointments to the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents Friday, just one week after Regent Robert Atwell, appointed by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2017, announced his intention to stay on the board past his term until a successor is appointed and confirmed.

The appointment will fill vacancies created by the expiration of three appointees’ terms at a time when the UW System is at a “critical juncture,” facing campus closures, layoffs and the implementation of a contentious deal surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs. 

Evers appointed Tim Nixon, Jack Salzwedel and Desmond Adongo to fill the vacancies, which expired May 1st. 

“Our UW System is at a critical juncture after a decade-long war waged on higher education by Republican lawmakers in our state, the devastating results of which we are seeing firsthand as campuses close their doors, layoff staff and cut programs,” Evers said in a press release Friday. 

The 18-member Board of Regents is currently comprised of 14 Evers appointees and two Walker appointees. Salzwedel and Adongo would replace former Evers appointees for terms that would last until 2031 and 2026, respectively. Nixon would fill a term that would last until 2031. 

Evers tapped Nixon, a commercial lawyer and graduate of UW-Green Bay and UW-Madison, to fill the vacancy created by the expiration of Atwell’s term.

Atwell said last week he would remain on the Board of Regents until a successor was appointed and confirmed, acting on the advice of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester. 

At a Capitol Pride flag raising ceremony Friday, Evers told The Daily Cardinal Atwell “was a person of extraordinary integrity” and that he believes Atwell will voluntarily decide to leave the Board of Regents at a later time.

“One of [the Board of Regents’] main things is to make sure that the University of Wisconsin System continues to be one of the best in the country. But when we have these games being played with Board of Regent members, that's a problem,” Evers told the Cardinal. “I do believe that at some point in time he'll decide to get off, but we have good people ready to go, and for sure two or three will be on the board at the next time.”

Since Evers assumed office in 2019, the Republican-controlled state Senate rejected 22 executive branch nominations and held hundreds more in legislative limbo by refusing to hold confirmation hearings.

In March, Senate Republicans fired two unconfirmed Evers-appointed regents. The regents, John Miller and Dana Wachs, both voted against the December deal between the UW System and the Legislature capping DEI programs in exchange for construction funding. 

The other appointees, Sazwedel and Adongo, both expressed their gratitude for their selection and said they were looking forward to serving the UW System and the state.

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Adongo, an economics and environmental student at UW-Oshkosh, has previously worked as a learning and development operations coordinator at Foot Locker Inc. Adongo, who fills the non-traditional student regent position, said he was excited to bring a “unique perspective” to improve student experiences across the UW System. 

And Salzwedel, a former chair and decade-long CEO of American Family Mutual Insurance Company, has served on several boards, including the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors and the UW Chancellor’s Advisory Board. 

“Having grown up, lived and worked in the state of Wisconsin for most of my life, I consider it an immense honor and privilege to be selected to serve on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents,” Salzwedel said. 

Vos did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the Evers appointees would receive a confirmation hearing. It is unlikely the state Senate will take up the nominations anytime soon as the Legislature finished out its session mid-May and likely won’t return before 2025. 

State News Editor Anna Kleiber contributed to this article.

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Gavin Escott

Gavin Escott is the campus news editor for the Daily Cardinal. He has covered protests, breaking news and written in-depth on Wisconsin politics and higher education. He is the former producer of the Cardinal Call podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @gav_escott.



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