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Gov. Tony Evers appoints Democratic donor to UW Board of Regents

Gov. Tony Evers appoints Democratic donor to UW Board of Regents


A Milwaukee venture capital fund founder and Democratic donor has been tabbed by Gov. Tony Evers to join the state board overseeing Wisconsin’s public universities.

John W. Miller


Evers’ office announced Monday he has appointed John W. Miller to the UW Board of Regents, an 18-member board that passes policies and rules for the University of Wisconsin System campuses.

Miller will finish out a term expiring in May that previously belonged to Regent José Delgado, who died late last month. The governor then intends to reappoint Miller for a full seven-year term, an Evers spokesperson said.

“John recognizes the role the UW System plays in connecting the dots across our communities, our economy, and the culture and history of our state, as well as our future, and I believe he will be an excellent addition to the Board of Regents,” Evers said in a statement.

Miller has been a heavy donor to Democratic politics, especially within the past decade, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. He gave at least $172,000 to state Democratic candidates and committees, including $33,000 to Evers since 2017 and $20,000 to Jill Karofsky’s state Supreme Court campaign.

Miller started his career as a congressional staffer in Wisconsin’s 4th District and in 2008 moved on to Miller St. Nazianz Inc., his family’s farm equipment manufacturing business, where he worked his way up to president and CEO of the company. Miller sold the company to its largest customer in 2014.

In 2015, Miller founded venture capital fund Arenberg Holdings to invest in early-stage companies, especially ones located in the Midwest, according to the company website.

“I could have gone anywhere after selling the company, but I decided I wanted to stay and build more in Wisconsin,” Miller told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a 2017 story about the city’s start-up scene for young investors.

Miller earned a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University, a master’s from Georgetown University and a law degree from UW Law School. He serves on the law school’s Board of Visitors and previously served on the Democratic National Committee host committee board.

UW Board of Regents president Drew Petersen said he looked forward to working with him on the challenges ahead.

“He joins the Board at a critical time as we respond to the pandemic and advocate for our next budget, and we will need his supportive voice,” Petersen said in a statement.

Miller’s appointment marks the eighth by Evers. Eight of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s appointees also serve on the board, along with the state superintendent and Wisconsin Technical College System board president.

The appointment is effective immediately but still subject to Senate confirmation.

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