President Ray Cross announces he is forming a University of Wisconsin (UW) System Business Council that will include key business and industry leaders from around the state with diverse backgrounds and experience.  The Council will advise the UW System about how the university can continue to best meet the needs of Wisconsin.

“The challenges Wisconsin faces are complex, and as we heard at our listening sessions around the state, there is an even greater need for connections between the UW and the state’s communities and businesses,” says Cross.  “This Council will help us enhance our partnerships with businesses as we continue to nurture a vibrant and promising future for Wisconsin.”

The Council will increase the dialogue with corporate leaders to better align the university with business and governmental sectors.  Council members will also advocate the value of the UW System and the important role it plays in Wisconsin’s economy.

Community and Business Collaboration

The announcement coincided with a panel of business and community leaders who shared the importance of the UW System at the Board of Regents meeting today.  Each participated in the UW System’s 2020FWD listening sessions, and stressed the role the university plays in developing the experts, entrepreneurs, and innovators of Wisconsin – from the medical community to technology.  Community and business mobilization is a key platform in the UW System 2020FWD strategic framework.

  • Tom Still, President of the Wisconsin Technology Council (WTC), stressed the importance of a close alignment with the university to develop the talent that Wisconsin’s employers need now and in the future.“Businesses look at higher education as a source of talent, a source of ideas, and a source of research,” said Still. “They recognize the critical importance of talent development and attraction for the future of all sectors in Wisconsin’s economy.  It is important for Wisconsin to maintain an edge.” WTC was launched in 2001 and serves as the science and technology advisor to the Governor and Legislature.  It is an independent, non-profit and non-partisan board with members from technology companies, venture capital firms, higher education, research institutions, law, and government.
  • José Ortiz, Jr. is an orthopedic surgeon and Chief of the Medical Staff at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, which has been ranked as the #1 hospital in the nation. The Mayo Clinic is world-renowned for its research and care for complex medical issues.  Dr. Ortiz, Jr. expressed the need for healthcare workers in the future. “Cross-collaboration is key,” said Dr. Ortiz, Jr.  “We will need to bring in 100 new positions every year for the next 20 years.  Eighty-six percent of people who get their medical degree and do their residency in Wisconsin stay in Wisconsin.”
  • Rene Daniels, Executive Director of the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, used the example of a UW-Stevens Point partnership. The Board and university conducted focus groups with students who entered the information technology (IT) field to better understand why they chose that field.  The Workforce Development Board’s mission is to cultivate a skilled and competitive workforce which meets the demands of employees in its nine-county region. “Businesses don’t know about the amazing resources the UW System has,” said Daniels.  “We have to do a better job of understanding what our employer needs are, and form alliances to build talent for the labor we currently need and what we will need in the future.”
  • Zach Halmstad, Founder and Product Manager of JAMF Software, shared how a liberal arts education is important to workforce development. “We need access to graduates with a liberal arts education. We have exactly 217 unique jobs out of about 600 people.  What education in the world prepares for 217 different job titles in a single organization?  We need people who can think freely to solve problems – the problems we are solving today are not the problems of a year ago,” said Halmstad.  “What we absolutely need are the skills they learned with getting their liberal arts education.”JAMF is the only IT management solution built exclusively for Mac, iPad, iPhone and Apple platforms for commercial, education and government organizations.  JAMF Software has about 600 employees, many of which are UW graduates.


“We strive to find effective solutions to the issues our citizens care about the most,” Cross said.  “Whether it is the shortage of health care professionals in rural areas, the need for more entrepreneurs, or development of the workforce talent our state needs, the UW System will continue to join with our partners to make a difference and improve the lives of people in Wisconsin.”

Media Contact

University Relations UW System (608) 263-1700