The UW Board of Regents voted unanimously today to name Jay Rothman, chair and CEO of Foley & Lardner, the new System president.

He is the first non-interim leader in the System’s more than 50-year history to come from a non-academic background.

Rothman earned a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. He joined Foley in 1986 and became CEO in 2011.

In a video introduction, Rothman recalled growing up on a small farm in Wausau and working on it until going to law school.

“Having been nearly a lifelong resident of the state of Wisconsin, I have seen firsthand the value that the UW System delivers to this state,” Rothman said. “It’s safe to say the economic vibrancy and success of the state of Wisconsin is inextricably linked to the success of the System and the fulfillment of the Wisconsin idea.”

The regents tapped Rothman, 62, over James Schmidt, chancellor of the Eau Claire campus since July 2013.

He will begin the job June 1 and will earn $550,000 annually, the System said.

Interim President Tommy Thompson plans to step down March 18.

Mike Falbo, a former regent president, has been asked to serve as interim president between Thompson’s resignation and Rothman taking the job.

Rothman has been an active donor since 2010, contributing $70,550 to state candidates and groups, according to a search of the Ethics Commission’s database. The bulk of that has gone to GOP or conservative recipients. The $16,750 he’s given to Dems and liberals includes $10,000 to Gov. Tony Evers. He also has contributed $22,750 to former Gov. Scott Walker.

See the release.



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