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UW president finalists vow to heal university's relationship with lawmakers

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - All three finalists for the next UW president vowed to heal the university's strained relationship with lawmakers who provide funding.  

State lawmakers slashed funds and imposed tuition freezes last spring, after learning that UW campuses hid millions in surpluses while raising tuition by maximum limits each year.  

Soon after that, Kevin Reilly announced his resignation. He stepped down on New Year's Eve.

Monday, the three finalists for Reilly's successor held statewide teleconferences to explain their plans. The Board of Regents expects to pick one of those finalists on Thursday.  

UW Extension and Colleges chancellor Ray Cross said the system must re-establish credibility with all levels of government. He vowed to hold listening sessions within the first 100 days and be "overtly transparent."

Kentucky Post-Secondary Education president Robert King said he knows how legislators think, because he used to be one in New York. He said the public's respect for higher education has eroded, due in part to the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State. King said lawmakers throughout the country responded by cutting funds.  

Pennsylvania higher education vice chancellor Peter Garland said he would need time to learn the UW's inner workings before going to lawmakers. He said all key leaders in the system would be part of the conversation. Garland also expressed concerns about rising tuition and student debt -- and he vowed to find a more efficient system for giving out financial aid.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)