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UW Board of Regents begins search to replace Kevin Reilly

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The UW Board of Regents has started a national search process to replace System President Kevin Reilly, who said Tuesday that he’ll leave at the end of the year.

The 63-year-old Reilly spent nine years in charge of the UW’s 26 campuses. He’ll become an adviser for the American Council on Education, and he hopes to return to teaching after that.

Reilly said he began talking last fall about a transition in the university’s leadership – and it had nothing to do with the recent controversies over the discovery of $650 million in reserves, and a payroll system glitch that overpaid millions in employee benefits.

Reilly said experienced leaders, “expect that roller coaster ride along the way,” and he just wants to do other things before he retires.

He said the Education Council’s president – Molly Corbett Broad – wrote him a few months ago about looking for a recently-retired university president to help her expand her role. Reilly said several conversations encouraged him to take the offer.

He pointed to a number of successes at the UW, including record enrollments and graduation numbers amid tight budgets. He said he was proud to attract and keep quality leaders despite unstable budgets and low compensation compared to similar schools.

Reilly called the university a “bright jewel … built by the toil and sacrifice of Wisconsin citizens over many generations.” He urged everyone to keep it, “brightly polished.”