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Board appoints Reilly as next University of Wisconsin System President

Remarks by Kevin P. Reilly

July 29, 2004

Thank you, Regent Marcovich, and thanks to all the Regents for the honor of serving as President of a public university system with one of the richest traditions in American higher education.

I'm grateful for the confidence you have placed in my abilities and experience. I am eager to work with you in building on the University of Wisconsin's record of excellence.

I believe that our job as a public university is to be Wisconsin's premier developer of human potential, the jobs that employ that potential, and the flourishing communities that sustain it.

My job as President will be to communicate the importance of that work and build lasting relationships with the people and organizations that make it possible.

With strong partnerships and a clear vision, we can tackle any number of challenges. Among them, we must address issues of affordability, access, economic development and quality.

Talent, creativity and drive are not the exclusive purview of wealthy families, so we need to keep higher education affordable for all Wisconsin people.

I look forward to working with the students, faculty, staff, Chancellors, and Regents on a financial aid package that helps young people from lower- and middle-income families expand their knowledge and prepare themselves for lifelong success.

Wisconsin workers need access to educational opportunities throughout their careers. Today's business climate demands flexibility and responsiveness, and and we have much to gain by further developing our pool of experienced and talented workers.

That's why the University will work closely with the Wisconsin Technical Colleges on efforts that increase the number of residents with baccalaureate degrees, through degree programs, certificates and courses designed specifically for busy working adults.

These and other efforts to address affordability and access will raise our per-capita income, grow our tax base and stimulate economic prosperity.

I've focused much of my attention as Chancellor of UW-Extension on the University's role in economic development, and I expect to intensify that focus in the President's post.

As we level the pathway to higher learning and open wide the pipeline of research and discovery, the challenge will be to ensure that the education and research itself is of the highest quality. We must keep our brightest minds in the classrooms and laboratories, if we are to preserve the high academic standards that are synonymous with the "UW" name. That entails providing nationally competitive compensation packages for our faculty, staff and administrators.

Ultimately, we must see that the fruits of their labor are returned to the people who paid for it - Wisconsin taxpayers. This is the public service obligation of our public university, and we must give people every opportunity to see how they benefit directly from their investment in higher education.

Thankfully, I will not be tackling these issues alone. I will work with a fine group of Regents, exceptionally talented faculty and staff across the UW System, and a strong cadre of Chancellors and Provosts.

I look forward to collaborating with the Governor, the Legislature, and all citizens - especially all of our UW students and clients - to keep the future of the university bright, and to extend that light to every corner of this state.

I enter this job knowing that I have the distinct privilege - and the daunting challenge - of following in the footsteps of President Katharine Lyall. I would like to thank her for 13 years of commitment, service, and caring leadership of the UW System. I will miss her as a boss and colleague, but know I can rely on her continuing friendship and advice. And I'll need it!

Leading this university is a big job. The recently released "Charting a New Course" study gives us a useful roadmap, and I look forward to hearing from others who have ideas about where this great University should go, and how we should get there. In any case, I am confident that the journey will be a rewarding and exciting one for all of us.

I'd be happy to take a few questions.

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