UW System President Ray Cross

MADISON — University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross announced today his intention to retire, capping off his 42-year career in higher education.

Cross, 71, will continue to serve as UW System president until his successor is found after a national search. He notified chancellors, regents, system leadership and employees of his decision this week.

“Serving as president of the UW System has been the most rewarding work of my life,” Cross said in a news release. “I believe there is no better investment for the state of Wisconsin than the University of Wisconsin System. From cutting-edge research on cancer, water quality, and how children learn to educating Wisconsin’s future leaders, the UW System has never been more important.”

Cross was named UW System president in January 2014, and began his appointment Feb. 15 of that year, after spending three years as chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension. He managed UW System during a time of steep budget cuts and a sustained tuition freeze, yet he always maintained a focus on ensuring quality and student success.

“Ray has been tireless in his efforts to lead the UW System with vision and integrity. His forward-looking attitude influenced policymakers and opinion leaders to embrace and support the UW System,” said Regent President Andrew S. Petersen in the release. “Ray stabilized the UW System at a time of legislative skepticism and financial challenges, and he restored transparency and credibility at the Capitol and among the public. He has guided the System through financial uncertainty and has positioned the System extremely well for the future. The Regents have had a terrific partner in Ray, and I look forward to celebrating his retirement and working with him in the months ahead as we chart the future course of the UW System.”

Cross began work as the UW System’s seventh president in February 2014. Prior to that, starting in February 2011, he was chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin–Extension. He was president of Morrisville State College of the State University of New York from 1998 until coming to Wisconsin in 2011. He has been president of Northwest Technical College in Bemidji, Minn.; department head and professor at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich.; and a design engineer, small-business owner, and consultant.

From 1967-70, Cross served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam and was awarded four medals for his service.

Petersen said the Regents will conduct a national search for a successor.

For more information about Cross, visit wisconsin.edu/president/about/biography/