- The chief govt of a Wisconsin-based legislation agency will take over as president of the College of Wisconsin System starting June 1, its regent board introduced Friday.
- Legal professional Jay Rothman, chair and CEO of the Milwaukee legislation agency Foley & Lardner, will helm some of the distinguished public increased schooling networks within the U.S. regardless of not having any expertise in postsecondary administration.
- Rothman beat out the chancellor of the College of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the opposite finalist for the place, matching the development of some establishments searching for to recruit leaders from outdoors academe.
Rothman’s choice alerts that the board of regents considers a business-savy lawyer with no increased ed background to be the proper decide to steer the 160,000-plus-student system by means of a tumultuous interval.
The system’s enrollment fell within the final two years or so, significantly amongst its two-year faculties. It faces different issues, together with the pandemic and tensions between system officers and the legislature.
Governing boards nationwide have generally turned to presidents from nontraditional backgrounds to supply contemporary options to perennial challenges — pondering a corporate-minded particular person is perhaps higher positioned to right monetary woes, as an illustration. An American Council on Schooling overview of faculty presidents discovered that in 2016, about 15% got here from outdoors increased ed.
Nevertheless, all these presidents have not all the time succeeded of their roles, generally stumbling with faculties’ shared governance mannequin.
Simon Newman, former president of Mount St. Mary’s College, in Maryland, was a longtime businessman employed in 2015 to assist the small Catholic establishment set a stronger monetary course.
However his company perspective grated on school and college students on the college. In 2016 he resigned following caustic feedback through which he likened low-performing, first-year college students to bunnies that ought to be shot and drowned. He’d additionally fired two school members who have been important of him, one in every of whom had tenure.
The Wisconsin system regent board forged Rothman as having deep data of the issues plaguing it. Rothman has a Harvard Regulation College diploma and guides the Foley legislation agency’s strategic planning as its CEO. He’s additionally a practising lawyer, specializing in such subjects as mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and company governance. He’ll earn $550,000 a yr.
“He has the management and govt administration expertise our college system wants,” Karen Walsh, the regent board’s vice chairman, stated in a press release. “He understands organizations. He builds consensus. He believes within the profound worth of upper schooling.”
This closes a long-running and generally fraught presidential search.
After former system President Ray Cross introduced his departure in 2019, the regents in 2020 named Jim Johnsen, then president of the College of Alaska System, as the only real finalist for the job.
However Johnsen, citing “course of points,” abruptly withdrew from the search proper earlier than the Wisconsin system was because of make him a proper provide.
Johnsen had endured important criticism from college students and college throughout the system. They questioned his report in Alaska, the place he was the topic of two no-confidence votes over shared governance issues.
Johnsen, who resigned from the Alaska system in 2020, had many years in increased schooling administration, much like the UW-Eau Claire chancellor, the regents’ different high decide for the job.
Critics have additionally felt the search was far too opaque.
“No public interview. By no means labored in increased ed. Introduced on a Friday afternoon,” Nicholas Fleisher, a linguistics professor at UW-Milwaukee and president of the American Affiliation of College Professors’ Wisconsin convention, posted to Twitter that day.
“Not an excellent search for the Regents,” Fleisher wrote, including that “we have now to order judgment on Rothman.”
The system’s interim president, former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, will step down efficient March 18. Mike Falbo, a former president of the regents, will serve within the place till Rothman begins in June.