Student Voice


February 21, 2024



UW System names new president

March 25, 2022

Tommy Thompson, the UW System interim president, is set to resign from his position effective March 18, after 18 months in his position. He took on his position July 1, 2020, after being selected by the Board of Regents. 

Taking his place will be Jay O. Rothman, who is currently chairman and CEO of Foley & Lardner LLP. The Board of Regents voted him in unanimously and offered the position on Jan. 21, making him the eighth UW System president. He holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University. His term is set to begin June 1, and he will earn $550,000 annually. 

Rothman grew up on an 80-acre farm located near Wausau where he and his family raised horses and cattle. His father worked as a dentist and his mother was a school teacher. Until leaving for law school at the age of 22, he worked on his family farm.

Rothman took his position at Foley & Lardner LLP in 2011, which is ranked in the top 50 law firms in the country, and employs over 1,100 lawyers and 1,000 professional staff. His work mainly consists of corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, and capital markets. He is also the director of the Junior Achievement of Wisconsin and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. He previously served as a chairman and member of the Children’s Wisconsin Foundation.

In his statement, Rothman said, “I’d like to say to the 39,000 people who work with the system, first of all, thank you, simply that and all of that.” 

“I value education, I want Wisconsin to thrive, and I want it to thrive for future generations. And if I can play some small role in that as President of the system, that would be a great honor,” he continued. 

In her statement, Chancellor Maria Gallo spoke positively of Thompson’s time as interim president and wished him the best, “His legacy will endure as a champion for meeting the needs of campus and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a voice for the future success of students, business and industry through his advocacy for UW-River Falls’s Science and Technology Innovation Center (SciTech).” 

Former regent president Mike Falbo will serve as interim president between March 18 and June 1. 

“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead the UW-System and approach this role with profound respect for the unparalleled role public higher education plays in the lives of our students, alumni, and communities,” Rothman said.