Sixteen Assembly Dems are calling for “shared governance” in the UW System’s search committee to replace outgoing UW President Ray Cross.

“We can’t emphasize enough the importance of making sure students, staff, and faculty are not only involved in this very important selection but have a seat at the table when a decision is made,” Dems wrote in a letter Thursday to UW System Regent President Andrew Petersen. “Therefore, we respectfully request that you make the addition of each of these stakeholder groups to your Search and Screen Committee.”

Cross announced last month he would retire from his position as soon as a successor has been found. The UW System Board of Regents appointed a nine-person search committee, comprised mostly of current and former regents, to find candidates for the position.

The UW System has a history of shared governance between regents, UW administrators, staff and students when it comes to selecting new leadership. Both previous presidential search committees consisted of 18 members from diverse UW backgrounds, including students who haven’t served as regents.

Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point previously called on Peterson to appoint more members to the committee, saying “an omission is a choice and inclusion can be a choice, too.”

But Petersen said current members are a “well-credentialed committee representing diverse interests and viewpoints of the board, academic leadership, faculty and students” and refusing to expand the number of committee members.

“There will be multiple public opportunities for our shared governance stakeholders to provide meaningful input throughout the process,” Petersen told in a statement. “The viewpoints of our shared governance stakeholders will be welcome and be paramount to ensuring we select the best candidate to lead the UW System for the years to come.”

The presidential search committee will meet for the first time in December. No date has yet been announced.

Dems who signed the letter include: Reps Dianne Hesselbein of Middleton, Jodi Emerson of Eau Claire, Jimmy Anderson of Fitchburg, JoCasta Zamarripa of Milwaukee, Chris Taylor of Madison, David Crowley of Milwaukee, Robyn Vining of Wauwatosa, Greta Neubauer of Racine, Marisabel Cabrera of Milwaukee, Gordon Hintz of Oshkosh, Gary Hebl of Sun Prairie, LaKeshia Myers of Milwaukee, Debra Kolste of Janesville, Jill Billings of La Crosse, Mark Spreitzer of Beloit and Jonathan Brostoff of Milwaukee.

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