MADISON — In recognition of the crucial role higher education will play in building Wisconsin’s economic future, UW System President Katharine Lyall has named Jonathan Henkes as special assistant for business outreach and economic development.

In his new position, Henkes will work with UW institutions and the business community to promote partnerships that enhance Wisconsin’s economic vitality. Among his specific duties will be to help address the statewide “brain drain/brain gain” issue. Also, he will work with UW campuses to support regional economic development efforts and to enhance public awareness of what the UW System is already doing in this area.

“The UW System is central to creating a knowledge-based economic strategy for Wisconsin’s future,” Lyall said. “Jonathan will coordinate our efforts to partner with the private sector and other public institutions in creating, attracting and nurturing the high-tech, high-paying jobs of the new Wisconsin.”

San W. Orr, Jr., president of the UW System Board of Regents, said the appointment underscores the board’s commitment to play a lead role in addressing economic development opportunities throughout Wisconsin.

Henkes will serve as a liaison to regional and statewide economic development organizations and related groups, the governor’s office, state elected officials, and UW System institutions to identity and advance initiatives aimed at building Wisconsin’s future workforce.

“The UW System has a unique opportunity to be a leader in the development of Wisconsin’s 21st century economy and workforce,” said Linda Weimer, UW System vice president for university relations. “This issue is critically important to the state and its future prosperity.”

Henkes will report to President Lyall, and will be working closely with Weimer and other staff within the Office of University Relations. Henkes has been with the UW System since 1991. Most recently he served as special assistant for government relations (1998-99). Prior, he was coordinator of information services (1991-1997), directing a number of projects in the areas of media relations, strategic communications and systemwide publications.

He served as press secretary to Governor Tommy Thompson (1988-90) and directed communications for a statewide political organization (1986-87). Henkes was an award-winning journalist for a Wisconsin weekly newspaper (1981-85). His academic background includes a bachelor’s degree in journalism from UW-Eau Claire (1979) and a master’s degree in public relations from UW-Madison (1999).

Past activities have included consecutive three-year terms on the Wisconsin Prison Industries Board (1993-98). He chaired the UW System Administration Academic Staff Governance Committee, (1994-95), and served on the marketing committee to support the fundraising and promotional goals surrounding construction of the UW-Extension Pyle Center on the UW-Madison campus (1996-97). He was a founding member of the steering committee for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association’s Partners 2000 campaign.


Sharyn Wisniewski, UW System
(608) 262-6448