The three finalists for the University of Wisconsin System president participated in statewide public forums and final interviews today ahead of a final Board of Regents decision on Thursday.
Following the interviews, the selection committee will meet Tuesday to recommend a candidate to the regents, who must approve the recommendation.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the previous two UW System presidents have been internal candidates. This time, only one of the three candidates is from the UW System.
Here’s a look at the candidates who could lead the system:
Cross has served as UW Colleges and UW Extension chancellor since 2011 but has held administrative positions in higher education since 1992, according to the UW Colleges and UW Extension website.
During his time as Morrisville State College president, Cross led initiatives that resulted in the partnership with IBM called ThinkPad University and a biodiesel co-generation project, the website said. Cross placed an emphasis on rural entrepreneurship and innovation.
Cross has been an advocate for the UW Flexible Option program, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Cross has also called the Flex Option program a “game changer” and said it opened many doors because it separated instruction and learning.
In an email to The Badger Herald, Cross said he was honored to be considered as a candidate.
“It’s a humbling experience to be selected as a finalist to lead this great university system,” Cross said.
Garland has served as the executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education since 2006, and has been working in education in Pennsylvania since 1980, according to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education website.
Garland also served as executive director of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education where he was involved in developing new academic standards and setting requirements for teachers.
Garland was unable to be reached for comment.
King currently serves as president of Kentucky Council of Postsecondary Education and previously served as chancellor of the State University of New York System.
Additionally, King spent 13 years as a prosecutor and served three terms in the New York State Legislature. King said his experience in New York’s Legislature would help increase communication between the state and UW as he has a “fairly good idea” of what legislators expect and how they think.
“Universities garner a great deal of resources from the state and I think its incumbent upon us not to lose sight of that and to be responsive to those who help support what we do,” King said.
King said he was drawn to the UW System president job because of its reputation and because of its international recognition. He said he was attracted to the challenge of making university systems work as effectively as possible not only for faculty and students, but also for taxpayers.
King said if he were to receive the position, he would focus on costs of higher education. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, tuition rose 28 percent for state residents at four-year colleges during King’s tenure as State University of New York chancellor.
It is important to figure out how to reduce achievement gaps and effectively use UW and its resources to help support growth of the economy and jobs in the state, King said. He said it is also important to see how UW could serve the needs of the K-12 system to ensure students are prepared and have the means to attend university.
These challenges can be seen throughout higher education and were not exclusive to Wisconsin, King said.
Correction: An editing error previously incorrectly reported Robert King’s name.