After leading the UW System through almost two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson announced Friday he has submitted his resignation letter, to take effect March 18, 2022.
Thompson stepped into the role of interim president in July 2020 as the UW System struggled to find a replacement for former President Raymond W. Cross, who retired the year before.
Thompson, a former Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, writes in his resignation letter that when he agreed to take on the role as interim president, he agreed to two things: "that I was needed, and that it would be temporary."
"While I firmly believe that the pursuit of excellence never ends, I am satisfied that I have accomplished what has been asked of me and what the people of this state have sought. 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 wrote in his resignation letter addressed to UW System Regent President Edmund Manydeeds III.
The Board of Regents now has the task of selecting a candidate to succeed former UW System President Cross and Interm President Thompson. A presidential search committee had been working on selecting finalists for the position.
In the meantime, Thompson said he will advance legislative agendas, visit campuses and prepare for upcoming Board of Regents meetings.
UW System Regent President Edmund Manydeeds III said in a statement Friday that Thompson's "leadership has helped carry us through a pandemic and set the standard for managing during a crisis."
"He answered the call as one of Wisconsin’s greatest public leaders by accepting this role in spite of the challenges in front of him. We are proud of what he accomplished in his time here and consider him, as always, a lifelong friend of the University of Wisconsin," Manydeeds said.
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank also issued a statement:
"President Thompson stepped in during a critical moment for UW System and our state, and he has provided strong and decisive leadership.
He has been an extraordinary advocate for our 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.
Thank you to President Thompson for helping us navigate the many challenges of the pandemic and for his tireless support of higher education.”
Read Thompson's resignation letter below: