Board of Regents honors UW System President Emeritus Ray Cross, who officially retired September 30, after more than six years of leading the UW System and 43 years in higher education.

President Cross led the UW System with integrity, grit, and compassion to make all of our universities better, more accountable, and to highlight the exceptional impacts our campuses and our people have on the future success of the State of Wisconsin. We, along with the UW System and the State of Wisconsin, owe President Cross a deep debt of gratitude for his service, commitment to excellence, and the numerous contributions he has brought forward as our seventh president.

Regent President Andrew S. Petersen

“A leader is someone you respect, someone you emulate, and someone you want to follow. That’s Ray Cross… He always wants this institution, the University of Wisconsin, to be the best for students, for faculty, for the state of Wisconsin… Thank you for who you are, what you’ve done, and what you still do.”

UW System President Tommy G. Thompson

Farewell Remarks

In his farewell remarks to the Board, President Emeritus Cross noted that in a world that is “so polarized, so tribal, so hostile, and so fragmented, where there are few things around which we can be unified, the University offers hope. This is where the relentless pursuit of truth is job one.”

Cross went on to suggest four main purposes to higher education: to gain an understanding of self, an understanding of one’s role in a community, understanding one’s role in sustaining and improving democracy, and developing the ability to participate in the economy.

But the UW System also believes its mission goes beyond individual purpose, Cross said, and is closely tied to the welfare of the state. “We call this the Wisconsin Idea,” Cross said, “and that’s what inspires our mission, our calling, and our purpose.” He encouraged the Board to “make our mission and purpose front and center always.”

Full text of remarks pdf

– October 8, 2020, UW System Board of Regents meeting