MADISON, Wis.—University of Wisconsin System President Kevin P. Reilly today announced the appointment of Tomas L. Stafford as the System’s General Counsel.
Stafford currently serves as Interim Deputy General Counsel, having worked as a UW System attorney for 10 years. He has represented the university before the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and worked with the Wisconsin Department of Justice to represent the university in state and federal court cases.
“With years of experience in higher education and a decade of service to UW System, Tom understands the complex legal issues that affect our institutions. Equally important, he has earned the trust of Regents, Chancellors, and other UW colleagues across the state,” Reilly said. “As a member of our leadership team, he will contribute to important policy decisions that will drive our Growth Agenda for Wisconsin.”
Before joining the UW System, Stafford served for five years in the Education Division of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, representing the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities at a critical time following the creation of that 30-campus system. He previously served as counsel to the Higher Education and Commerce committees of the Minnesota State Senate, after working as an associate with the Winthrop & Weinstine law firm in St. Paul.
Stafford earned his law degree from the University of Minnesota after receiving his baccalaureate degree in history and political science at the University of North Dakota.
In his new role, Stafford will serve as chief legal officer for the UW System, comprised of two doctoral universities, 11 comprehensive campuses, 13 freshman-sophomore colleges, and statewide UW-Extension networks. He will provide legal advice to the Board of Regents, the UW System President, campus Chancellors, and others on matters related to personnel, student affairs, real estate, intellectual property, and other areas.
“I am honored by this appointment, and excited about the opportunity to serve our faculty, staff, and students in a new way,” Stafford said. “Working with my dedicated colleagues in the Office of General Counsel, we will continue providing high quality legal services in support of the UW System’s vital mission.”
Stafford was identified as a finalist for the position following a national search process. The 10-member search committee was chaired by Regent David G. Walsh, a Madison attorney.
Stafford succeeds Patricia Brady, who will retire next month after 30 years of service to the university and the state, including eight years as UW System General Counsel. She has taught higher education law courses at UW-Madison and given numerous presentations on higher education issues within the UW System and before national groups.
Stafford’s annual salary will be $165,000.