MADISON – David W. Olien, who has served for the past year as interim senior vice president for administration in the University of Wisconsin System, was today named to the position on a permanent basis.

The appointment follows a national search, and is effective immediately. He reports to President Katharine Lyall and succeeds Keith Sanders, who became executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

In announcing the appointment, Lyall said: “I look forward to David’s continued service in this critical position. His expertise in management, government relations, communications and private fundraising make him an ideal choice. His broad knowledge of issues affecting higher education, both in Wisconsin and nationwide, is a valuable resource as the UW System moves into the 21st century.”

Olien will be the chief operating officer of the UW System Administration, with responsibility for overall strategic planning and the management of operations. Units that report directly to him include System Administration fundraising, human resources, procurement, safety and loss prevention, and office services.

The senior vice president is a principal administrative and policy adviser to the president and Board of Regents. He oversees executive searches and orientations, and represents the president on the Educational Communications Board, the State Historical Society of Wisconsin Board of Curators, and in national higher education forums, including the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Olien joined the UW System in 1993 as vice president for university relations, with responsibility for government relations and public affairs. He previously spent 14 years with the University of Illinois, including four years in legislative relations, seven years as executive assistant to the president, and three years as deputy director of the University of Illinois Foundation.

Prior to that he served six years as Illinois legislative leadership staff, following three years with the Illinois-based Lindsay-Schaub Newspapers.

Olien, 49, grew up in New Richmond, Wisconsin. His background includes a B.A. degree in journalism from UW-Eau Claire (1970), an M.A. degree in political studies from the University of Illinois at Springfield (1974), and an M.S. degree in higher education administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1989).

Professionally, Olien is chair of a national Task Force on State Relations, under the auspices of three higher education associations. He also serves on the national Communications Commission of CASE.


Peter D. Fox
(608) 262-6448