New UW System president mends fences at Capitol - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

New UW System president mends fences at Capitol


MADISON (WKOW) -- New UW System President Raymond Cross began his work at a place laden with political land mines in the past for some top university educators: the State Capitol.

The 66-year old Cross visited the offices of both republican and democrat lawmakers Friday, and was a familiar face to many. For the past two years, Cross has served as UW Colleges and Extension Chancellor.

Cross' predecessor as president, Kevin Reilly, angered some top republicans last year, when at a time of rising student tuition, Reilly revealed a significant, System reserve fund balance.

"Do I think we should have been more transparent, forthcoming? I think so," Cross tells 27 News. "But there was nothing intentionally deceitful of any kind involved."

"What I'm interested in doing in the future is becoming excessively transparent," Cross says.

Some lawmakers had objected to the establishment of a pay range last year for the System's president position of between $399,000 and $598,500. Cross is being paid $525,000. But Cross tells 27 News he's devoting $100,000 of his salary over the next four years to a scholarship fund for students in Milwaukee with interest in becoming the first generation of their families to pursue college.

After meeting with Cross Friday, Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) tells 27 News Cross brings his experience with Extension students from across the state. "So one thing you like right off the top is he's not someone who thinks Wisconsin is just Madison-Milwaukee," Grothman says.

Cross says boosting faculty compensation in the face of increasing pressure from the competition of universities in other states is one of his top priorities. Cross also tells 27 News he wants to continue to educate lawmakers and the general public on the value of the UW System, and the workings of its different revenue streams.

Grothman urges Cross to prioritize restraining the rising cost of student tuition. Cross says financial aid programs, grants and other avenues will be pursued aggressively as part of an effort to hold down tuition.  

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