Skip to main Content

University of Wisconsin panel to consider recommending Jim Johnsen as new president

MADISON, Wis. — A search committee is set to meet Friday to discuss whether to recommend University of Wisconsin System regents hire Jim Johnsen as system president.

UW officials have been searching for a new president since October when Ray Cross announced he would step down as soon as a successor could be found.

Johnsen has served as president of the University of Alaska System since 2015. He emerged as the lone finalist for the UW job after other would-be finalists the search committee identified decided to drop out of the running for fear that being named would compromise their ability to fight the coronavirus in their current positions.

The search committee's chairman, Regent Michael Grebe, said the panel decided against re-starting the search because it would take months and Johnsen was the top choice anyway.

Johnsen faces growing opposition from UW faculty, staff and students, who have branded the search a failure and fear Johnsen won’t consider their input when making decisions.

Johnsen received two no-confidence votes from Alaska faculty in 2017 and 2019. Hundreds of UW alumni, students, faculty and staff have signed a petition asking regents to re-start the search. Associated Students of Madison, UW-Madison’s student governance group, said in a statement that it doesn’t support Johnsen.