UW System President Steps Down

Emily Margeson emarg634@uwsp.edu

Kevin Reilly decided to leave his position as the University of Wisconsin System President, spurring the search for a replacement.

Interviews for the open position have not begun yet, but Richard Telfer, Chancellor at UW-Whitewater, will be taking over as interim president until a permanent replacement is found.

Reilly’s last day as president will be on Dec. 31, so he can start his new position as an advisor for the American Council on Education and also return to teaching. Telfer will begin his role as interim on Jan. 1.

“The hiring process is very different, normally you would just go in and interview someone,” said Carrie Heibler of University Relations and Communications at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. “With a public position you get a committee to find the group that will be selected and then the committee will screen the applicants.”

Over the next few months, the hiring process will be in high gear. Members of the president search committee will be sorting through many resumes and trying to narrow down the applicants to a small group they will interview.

Al Thompson, vice chancellor for student affairs at UWSP, is in the UW Leadership section of the committee.

“It’s not just one thing, it’s a very complex job,” Thompson said. “It’s a position that has to be able to look at everything through very different lenses and angles. They should have a track record of working with very large and complex organizations.” Because he is a member of student affairs, Thompson will be keeping his focus on the 180,969 students that make up the whole system.

“For students it’s someone who has an understanding of college students and knows what students today are going through,” Thompson said. “The key part is to graduate them and they get their degrees and diplomas and move forward.”

Thompson claims that students will always be in the back of his mind and they should know the committee is putting their best foot forward.

Aside from students, faculty will be affected by this transition as well. Many faculty members know that change is a part of life and are feeling indifferent about the president’s resignation.“I think Kevin Reilly is moving on to new things, he is at a place in his career where he has found something new and wants change,” said Associate Professor of English David Roloff.

“With any transition there needs to be a lot of thought of who the next president will be and what they offer,” said Assistant Professor of sociology and social work Kristi Watkins. “The interim may have to stay longer in order to and that is okay.”

With Thompson being in the UW System for 23 years he knows what the system has gone through and what the goals are.

“It’s an honor to be on the committee, I take this seriously and is one of the most important jobs in the state to be filled,” Thompson said. 

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