UW System President Prioritizes Reaching Out To State’s Business Leaders

As Ray Cross Enters First Academic Year As UW's Leader, He Says Collaboration With Businesses Is Key

UW System President Ray Cross speaks to Milwaukee community leaders in March. Photo: crfsproject (CC-BY-NC-SA).

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross is reaching out to business leaders in the state to help focus his goals as he enters his first new academic year at the helm of the UW.

Cross said the UW System is going to have to work in collaboration with businesses and lawmakers to overcome challenges in the state. He said that he’s meeting with business leaders to see how the UW can better serve them and the future workforce.

He said that determining what they see as long-term state and economic needs will help him narrow his focus.

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“I have a broad, broad, broad picture here,” said Cross. “Refining that into what that means and how it’s effectively implemented is going to take a lot more work than just some dream or vision of Ray Cross.”

Cross said the feedback could impact where universities and colleges focus their resources in the future.

He said the entire system can play a much bigger role in establishing the state’s economic priorities. He said that often politicians set the agenda, but they may or may not have the background knowledge to make appropriate judgments.

“We need to use data to inform that. We need to say to leaders in the state, ‘This is where the state’s employment needs are going to be 10 years from now. Help us get there,’” he said. “We need to be telling them that in a few years we’ll need Ph.D.s in data science, those types of things.”

Cross said he’d like to see the day when lawmakers and businesses rely on the universities for more research and information.

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