Interim University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson has shaken up staffing, tapping two people who have previously worked for him and promoting a current System employee to report directly to him.
Shortly after Thompson took office July 1, he hired a new chief of staff and filled a vice president position that had been occupied on an interim basis for more than two years. More recently, he elevated a current System employee to a new, more prominent title. All three have ties to former Republican Gov. Scott Walker or worked with Thompson when he served as Republican governor from 1987 to 2001.
The hires and promotion come at a time when Thompson plans to lay off an untold number of System administration employees. He also has to make his case over the coming months to the Republican-controlled Legislature on why they should funnel more money to the state’s public universities in the next state budget.
“The president took the opportunity to bring in experienced leadership in an immediate way to help the UW System navigate through the upcoming budget and pandemic,” System spokesman Mark Pitsch said.
Thompson hired Dean Stensberg as his chief of staff on July 5. Stensberg will make $175,000, roughly the same annual salary as the previous chief of staff.
Stensberg worked as special assistant to Thompson during his governorship and has held a number of state government positions since then. Most recently, he was the executive assistant to Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack.
Thompson appointed Scott Neitzel to be vice president for university relations, overseeing the System’s interactions with businesses, state and federal lawmakers and government agencies.
Neitzel served as Department of Administration secretary under Walker and also worked within DOA when Thompson served as governor. Before taking the System job this summer, he worked as a consultant based in Madison.
Neitzel’s annual salary is $248,400, about $46,000 more than the person who served in the position on an interim basis since 2018 and almost twice what he made as DOA secretary when his salary was $127,545.
His higher pay reflects his budget and management experience in the public sector, as well as his time in the private sector, where he earned more than five times what he will make at System in salary, bonus, stock awards and more, Pitsch said.
No open search took place for the two positions, which Pitsch said is not uncommon because the jobs are “interim appointments” serving at the pleasure of Thompson.
Thompson also elevated the System’s director of compliance and integrity, Katie Ignatowski, to the new title of chief compliance officer. Ignatowski previously worked as chief legal counsel in Walker’s office before joining the System in 2019. She will make $172,500, which is $21,000 more than she received last year as director.
As director of compliance and integrity, Ignatowski reported to the System’s Office of General Counsel. In her new role that took effect Sept. 15, Ignatowski directly reports to Thompson.
The new reporting structure is consistent with national best practices and provides the office with more independence and authority, Ignatowski told the UW Board of Regents Audit Committee on Thursday. The office oversees compliance matters, such as public records requests, precollege and youth programs and the federal gender-equity law known as Title IX.
No search for the position was required, Pitsch said, because the new title is an expansion of Ignatowski’s previous job with additional responsibilities uniquely connected to her.
Follow the Wisconsin State Journal’s 2020 presidential election coverage
Follow the Wisconsin State Journal's 2020 presidential election coverage
The candidates for the Nov. 3 election have accepted their party nominations. Who will win the key battleground state of Wisconsin?
Still, last-minute court rulings could mean results being delayed in Wisconsin by days.
Big margins in northern Wisconsin were critical to President Donald Trump's 2016 win in Wisconsin.
The few Wisconsin delegates who traveled to this week’s Republican National Convention in North Carolina said the event — which was downsized …
Only four of Wisconsin's 52 GOP delegates plan to attend the scaled-down Charlotte convention, while others will watch from home.
At one point, Baldwin was considered near the top of Biden's list of potential picks to run alongside him for the presidency this fall.
Kicking off the DNC on Wednesday from the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Evers expressed regret that the convention, which shifted last week to a mostly online event due to COVID-19, could not be held in-person.
"As we all recognize, it’s not exactly what we thought it was going to be, but what we’ve been forced to deal with," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said of the first-of-its-kind convention.
In addition to once boasting more than 50,000 visitors and hundreds of millions of tourism dollars, Milwaukee's political bash also aimed to cleanse Democrats' palate of Trump's margin-thin victory over Hillary Clinton here in 2016.
Biden leads Trump 49% to 43% among Wisconsin respondents. Biden's lead in Wisconsin widens to 52% to 44% among voters who say they are "certain" to vote in November.
Biden led by a 6-point margin among likely voters over Trump in a June Marquette poll.
Republican President Donald Trump also has caused controversy for saying he might deliver acceptance speech at White House.
Community organizers in Milwaukee have shifted their voter outreach programs to focus on mail-in absentee ballot education.
The poll also found former Vice President Joe Biden widening his lead over President Donald Trump in the state and a declining concern among Wisconsinites over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perceptions of whether or not the president delivered on the promises he made during his 2016 campaign differ drastically along party lines.
The latest poll's results come as Wisconsin faces unprecedented unemployment numbers, which have risen sharply following state efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by shutting down some businesses or limiting services at others.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won the state four years ago, was still in the race when the polls closed last Tuesday, but he suspended his campaign the following day — nearly a week before results would be reported. On Monday, he endorsed Joe Biden.
Organizers are searching for ways to empower voters in communities of color and low-income areas that saw a decrease in turnout during the 2016 general election.
As the remaining Democratic presidential candidates look to begin large-scale campaign efforts in Wisconsin, they enter a battleground state that already has received considerable attention from President Donald Trump.
In this week’s Front Page podcast, Wisconsin State Journal state and politics reporter Mitchell Schmidt discusses the field of candidates, the upsets, the victories, and what Wisconsin voters will have to look forward to, as we near the Democratic National Convention.
All other major candidates in the race received between 9 and 17% support.
In the general election, President Donald Trump faces a tight race against the Democratic field in Wisconsin.
Results of a new Wisconsin state-wide poll, released Sunday, show Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in a commanding lead ahead of Democratic presidential nominees. But, given the surprise outcome of the 2016 presidential election, the question remains: How accurate are political polls in an election year?
UW-Madison's Elections Research Center plans to launch a new poll to complement the Marquette Law School Poll.