Today’s announcement that former Gov. Tommy Thompson has agreed to lead to University of Wisconsin System as its interim president is very welcome news. During this critical time for higher education in Wisconsin, Thompson will provide exemplary leadership and a firsthand knowledge of the importance of public higher education to Wisconsin’s economic future and quality of life.
During Thompson’s term as governor in the 1990s, he oversaw and nurtured a biotechnology boom in Wisconsin that helped make the state a major hub for research-generated companies, a movement that continues strong today. Also at that time, major investments were needed in aging research infrastructure around the state and Thompson’s signature ability to have people work well together led to wide support for the UW System Biostar Program, which helped modernize many basic research buildings and labs.
As the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, Secretary Thompson again orchestrated a collaborative effort in setting federal policy on stem cell research, paving a way for the science to continue. That work began here in Wisconsin in 1998 with stem cell pioneer James Thomson’s landmark discoveries. Stem cell science is now booming across UW-Madison, and Thomson’s work today as a Morgridge Institute investigator is focused on life-saving new approaches to cardiovascular surgery.
I’m pleased to see that Thompson will continue to be a champion for Wisconsin higher education and to foster cooperative efforts to strengthen the Wisconsin Idea. We at the Morgridge Institute look forward to supporting his work.
Brad Schwartz, M.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Morgridge Institute for Research