Turnover at the top: Reilly just latest top higher ed leader in Madison to depart

Tim Goral's picture

When University of Wisconsin System President Kevin Reilly departs at the end of the year, he’ll be just the latest top administrator in Madison higher education to hop off the carousel. Of the six top jobs in this higher education mecca, four will have turned over in about a year, making way for new blood but also raising concerns the exodus holds ominous signs.

“This is not the golden age for higher education in Wisconsin,” said Joe Heim, longtime political analyst and professor at UW-La Crosse. “Both the tech schools and UW have had tough budgets over the last two or three cycles.”

Others see opportunities for new leaders to bring new ideas and collaboration to funding problems that most acknowledge are likely not getting better soon.

“It gives us a chance to relook at relationships,” said Noel Radomski, director of the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education, a think tank on the UW-Madison campus who’s also a former Madison Area Technical College district board member. “New leaders can do things together differently. They don’t have the same baggage and can start having conversations about how we can better serve our Wisconsin residents as it relates to education and training.”

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